Emergency officials: Never leave children, pets in hot cars

July 1, 2014

By Peter Clark

What should concerned citizens do if they see a child or pet in a hot car?

Issaquah police would like concerned citizens to call them.

“They should call 911 if it’s a child and ask for the police,” Issaquah Police Cmdr. Stan Conrad said.

If someone sees a pet in a car, he or she should also call the police, but use the non-emergency line, 837-3200.

Last year, a local man was arrested for leaving his 3-month-old son in a car while shopping at an Issaquah grocery store and charged with second-degree child abandonment. Conrad said cases like that should never happen in the first place.

“The first thing I’ll say is that people shouldn’t leave their dogs or their child in a car — period,” he said. “Either with a pet or a child, you’re looking at a potential charge.”

Conrad said police procedure involves visually sizing up the situation. If an officer determines he or she should enter a vehicle, they will find a way.

“We’ll go out there and see if we can find the owner of the car,” he said. “But we may have to call animal control or open the car ourselves. The last resort is to break in the vehicle.”

Eastside Fire & Rescue Deputy Chief of Operations Greg Tryon agreed that if residents see a child or pet in a hot car, they should call the police.

“We’ll respond to the calls when we’re contacted, but the best thing to do would be to call the police,” Tryon said. “Either way, that’s what we’re going to do. The police have better equipment for getting into cars as well.”

The Seattle Humane Society recommends pet owners take pets with them when leaving a vehicle.

“Never leave your pet in the car unattended in warm weather — not even for ‘just a minute’ or a quick stop at the grocery store,” according to a news release from the organization. “The interior of a car can hit 160 degrees in less than five minutes. Keeping an animal in a hot car can be fatal.”

A dog’s normal body temperature ranges from 101 to 102.5 degrees. Dogs can withstand 107 to 108 degrees for only a very short period of time before suffering brain damage or death, the release said.

Excessive panting, a dark red tongue, staggering, seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomiting are symptoms of heat stroke.

“Remember that if your buddy has a shorter nose, like a Persian cat, a pug or a bulldog, he or she is more susceptible to heatstroke than breeds with longer noses,” the press release read. “If you suspect you pet has become overheated, seek veterinary care immediately.”


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