Thursday, May 31, 2007

Dog Days of Summer Warning...

In June 2006, the LA City Council officially went on the record supporting California Senate bill 1806. The bill outlaws leaving an animal in any unattended motor vehicle under conditions that endanger the health or well-being of the animal due to heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, or lack of food or water. This important bill was approved overwhelmingly by the Legislature last summer and signed by the Governor in September. This groundbreaking measure was made possible thanks to the staff and volunteers of LA Animal Services who were the original authors of the bill.

As the dog days of summer approach, the The Animal Protection Institute (API, a national nonprofit animal welfare group in Sacramento) has sent out the following information:

API has launched its summer initiative, “My Dog is Cool,” to save dogs and other animals from dying in hot cars during warm-weather months.

Every year, dogs die after being locked inside cars while their humans leave them, often for “just a few minutes.” These tragedies occur with alarming frequency, yet the animals’ deaths are completely preventable.

“As the summer heats up, it’s important that people be made aware of the dangers of leaving companion animals inside hot cars,” says API’s director of legal and government affairs, Nicole Paquette. “People mean well by taking their dog or other animal along with them while they work, visit, shop, or run errands, but warm weather can literally turn a car into a death trap.”

** NOTE: A Stanford University test found that even if it’s only 72 degrees outside, a car’s internal temperature can rocket to 116 degrees within an hour. Hundreds of dogs are unintentionally killed or injured each year by being left in hot cars, even with windows cracked and only for a short time.

The lifesaving Web site is a free, friendly resource to help spread the word about the dangers of hot cars. Resources include downloadable posters and “It’s hot!” flyers that can be used when a dog is left in a hot car, and an “Is it Too Hot?” weather forecasting tool that allows you to just enter your zip code and see if it’s too hot to take your pal along in the car.

The site provides everything you need to know to keep dogs safe and happy during hot weather.

The Animal Protection Institute is a national nonprofit animal advocacy organization working to end animal cruelty and exploitation through legislation, litigation and public education. For more information, visit

Below are some additional tips to keep in mind on warm/hot days. These points are from Gary Bogue, a daily newspaper columnist on pets, wildlife and environmental issues for Contra Costa Newspapers, in Walnut Creek, CA, since January, 1970. You can read more insightful information by Gary at:

Things to keep in mind on warm/hot days:

Indoor Animals — Make sure your house doesn't turn into an oven during the day while you're at work. If you don't have an air conditioner, leave as many windows partially open as you can to keep the air circulating. Moving air is important. Your dog or cat will follow the air currents around to find the most comfortable spot.

You can help by filling several liter-size plastic Coke/Pepsi bottles with water and freezing them. (Don't fill them too full because ice expands.) Leave them lying on the floor around the house in places where your pets like to hang out. They can snuggle up against the icy bottles and keep at least a little cooler.

If you have an aquarium or fish bowl full of fish, make sure the sun doesn't shine on them as it moves past your windows. Warm water loses oxygen, and a fish in a sunny aquarium can have trouble breathing and actually "drown."

Outdoor Animals — If your dog or cat spends the day in the back yard, it would be great if they had a dog/cat door that would let them come inside to cool off. If they don't (how about a doggy door into the garage?), you need to make sure they have some shady spots to get out of the sun and plenty of water to drink so they can stay hydrated.

Give the ground under bushes or in shady areas a good watering before you go to work so your dog has a place to stay comfortable. You can always give your pal a bath later.

Drinking Water — Whether your pets stay inside or out, make sure they have plenty of cool, clean water to drink. Leave several large bowls in different parts of your house or yard where your pets like to go and make sure they stay out of the sun so the water doesn't get too hot to drink.

Here are a couple of important points from an ASPCA News Alert on hot weather:

1. Exercise your dog in the cool of the early morning or evening, never when it's hot. Be careful not to let your dog stand on hot asphalt or cement, as its sensitive paw pads can easily burn.

2. Some animals need extra special care in hot weather, especially those who are elderly and overweight, or have heart or lung disease. Hopefully, you know who you are.