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Car no place for a pet in the summer

People love their pets. Some people love their pets so much, in fact, they can’t bear to leave them at home. In the summertime — tragically, for the pets — that kind of love can be deadly.
Walk through just about any retail store parking lot and you might very well see a dog left alone inside a vehicle, often with the windows rolled down a couple of inches. If you’re feeling the heat outside, what do you think is going on in there?
Here’s what:
According to the Department of Geosciences at San Francisco State University, on a relatively cool 70-degree day, the temperature inside a car can reach 99 degrees within 20 minutes. On a 90-degree day — such as the one forecast for today — the temperature inside a car reaches 109 degrees in 10 minutes and 119 degrees in 20 minutes. And it keeps rising.
And local veterinarians say leaving windows open a couple of inches does absolutely nothing to help.
Dr. Rebekah Julian of Lazy 5 Veterinarian Hospital said for an article in today’s paper that she sees at least one pet die every year after being left in a hot car. She points out that’s just among the ones actually brought to Lazy 5. It doesn’t include the pets taken to other clinics, or not taken to any.
A handful of states have enacted laws specifically prohibiting animal owners from leaving their pets in unattended vehicles. North Carolina is not among those, but there are laws in place to protect pets in those situations. Under state statute, an officer can use “any reasonable means” to remove a suffering animal from a vehicle, including breaking a window. And the officer can charge the owner with animal cruelty, a judgment call that may depend on how long the pet is left in the vehicle and its condition.
In May, a Wake County woman was charged after leaving her two dogs inside her car as she spent nearly three hours shopping at a Walmart. The outside temperature was about 80 degrees, but the temperature inside the car climbed to over 120 degrees. Both dogs died.
Obviously, that’s the worst-case scenario for pet and owner. No one believes animal owners mean for their dogs or cats to suffer fatal heat stroke from being left in a car on a warm day. But it happens, and it doesn’t have to. Just leave them in the comfort of home, and know they’ll be OK when you get there.
By all means, love your pets. Just don’t love them to death.

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