Rising Temperatures Dangerous For Pets

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Two dogs -- a yellow lab and a creamy white Chihuahua -- sat panting on the darkly upholstered seats of a black Chevrolet pickup truck, hanging their heads out half-open windows Tuesday morning.

Anthony Orozco noticed the dogs around 10 a.m.

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"I saw the dogs on the seat," Orozco said. "They were barking."

By 10:30 a.m., the temperature reached 93 degrees. After another 15

minutes, the driver of the car emerged from his medical appointment and was approached by this reporter.

As he backed out of the parking spot, the driver said he provided water and doesn't normally leave his dogs unattended.

But it only takes once.

"Once a dog hits (an internal temperature) of 107 degrees, they can get heatstroke," said Don Tanner, Payson Police Department animal control officer. "At that temperature and above, the blood seems to clot."

Outside temperatures in the mid-90s, Tanner added, could warm the inside of a car in excess of 120 degrees in just a few minutes -- even with the window halfway open.

And at that heat, water doesn't stay cool long.

"Hot water isn't good for animals when left in the vehicle," Tanner said. "Dogs don't cool the same way people do."

A dog's normal body temperature runs between 101 to 102 degrees.

Tanner said the rate of heatstroke varies from animal to animal. The color of the car affects temperature, too.

To cool their furry bodies, according to the United States Humane Society, dogs pant. Sweat glands in noses and paws cannot efficiently mitigate overheated bodies.

Puppies, senior and smaller dogs such as pugs, and those with health problems are more susceptible to heat-related illness.

In as few as 15 minutes of breathing hot air, dogs can suffer brain and organ damage.

The Stanford University School of Medicine conducted a study on the temperature inside cars.

Scientists found that mild, ambient temperatures -- even with the air conditioning on -- can cause the interior of a car to rise by 40 degrees in an hour.

"A cracked window had an insignificant effect on both the rate of heating and the final temperature after an hour," cited the study. "The air conditioner trick only delayed the temperature spike by about five minutes."

For Rim Country dogs, this year has been better than most, Tanner said. Since late May, the Payson Police Department has received a dozen calls. Last summer, Tanner answered up to five complaints during one weekend.

If a complaint is made, police at the scene will assess the animal's condition and attempt to find the owner. Officers can use necessary force to rescue animals in danger.

To report an animal locked in a parked car, contact the Payson Police Department, (928) 474-3288.

-- To reach Felicia Megdal (928) 474-5251 ext. 116 or e-mail fmegdal@payson.com.

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