“Never leave your dog in a hot car” is the message the Animal Welfare League is sending through its demonstration car parked on the sidewalk in front of Alexandria's Vola Lawson Animal Shelter.
A Fiat with stuffed animal dogs and thermometers inside showcases just how quickly the inside of a car can get on a hot day.
On Thursday by 10 a.m., the thermometers had reached 102 degrees. By noon, it was 140 degrees inside the car even with the windows slightly open. The shelter has the car on display Friday as well.
“A dog does not perspire like a person. It pants,” said Joy Wilson, chief animal control officer for the City of Alexandria. “When the only thing a dog is breathing is hot air, brain damage sets in along with convulsions, seizures and then unconsciousness,” she said, adding that she’s amazed how many calls the center gets even on incredibly hot days about a dog that’s unattended in a car.
Wilson said when the temperature climbs higher than 80 degrees in a car, an animal will become “distressed.” A dog will become uncomfortable, try to climb into the floor boards of the car and its breathing and panting “becomes very elevated.”
She also advises that dog owners during summer hot spells should take their dogs on shorter walks and try to go out only in the early morning and evening.
“Make sure you’re equipped,” she said. “If you take a bottle of water for yourself, make sure you have extra for your dog.”
If anyone witnesses an animal in a hot car, sees an animal in distress or believes that an animal is being neglected or abused, call:
- Alexandria Animal Control: 703-746-4774
- Alexandria Police Non-Emergency: 703-838-4444
- Fairfax County Animal Control: 703-691-2131