City of Midland Enforcing Law to Protect Dogs Left in Vehicles

by Diane Tuazon
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - You'd never leave your kids unattended in a car during a hot day, and Midland Animal Control wants to make sure you know it's not any different for dogs.

"You need to educate people to let them know that it's not okay to leave animals in cars especially in this area," Dr. Jennifer Johnson of Greenbelt Veterinary Hospital in Midland, said.

You might think leaving your dog inside a hot car while running a quick errand isn't a big deal, but it can now cost you more than you think. 
A city law requires all drivers to leave at least two windows rolled down, four inches if they're leaving a pet inside a car.

"Just last week we pulled one out where the vehicle was 138 degrees, so we broke into the window and rescued the dog and took him to the vet," Paul O'Neil with Midland Animal Services, said.

Doctor Johnson sys the reason most dogs are left inside hot cars is because their owners don't understand how vulnerable the pets are.

"They don't have sweat glands like we do, just on nose and pads. So what they do is they pant in order to remove heat in respiratory system. You put them in a car, they're breathing already heated air, so very quickly they can over heat," Dr. Johnson said.

"Even for just 10-15 minutes when it's a 100 degrees outside, it's 30-40 degrees hotter inside the car," O'Neil said.

Officials say they can break into a car if the dog looks like it's trapped.

"They have to pay the impound fee and be charged with the ordinance, and if the condition is bad enough, they can be charged with animal cruelty," O'Neil said.

Doctor Johnson says signs of dehydration shouldn't be taken lightly.

"They're going to be panting pretty hard, more so than normal and heart rate is fast. Their eyes are glassy and not paying attention to you. Then you need to bring their body temperature down and cool water and take them to the vet," Dr. Johnson said.

Doctor Johnson also said you can avoid the entire situation by using some common sense.

"If they can take them into the places they're going to, then that's fine, but if they're going to leave them in a car, then just leave them at home. It's just not safe for them," Dr. Johnson said.