Dogs belong at home, not in hot cars
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By Mickey Zeldes  July 11, 2014 12:00 am

It’s time to start leaving your dogs at home. I know that’s a radical concept to some.

We’ve become a society that more and more brings our dogs with us everywhere we go. The problem is they are still not welcome everywhere, and it’s too hot to leave them in the car.

It’s amazing how many people need their dogs with them to go shopping, to the bank and just to run errands. Everyone now has a “service” dog, because, unfortunately, getting those tags is all too easy. People think they should be entitled to bring little Foofy with them into grocery stores or restaurants, and it’s causing some awkward scenes and ruffling more than a few feathers. The problem is if you are unable to bring your dog inside with you, or the dog causes a disturbance and you are asked to leave, is it safe to leave him in the car?

Some people don’t realize how quickly the interior of a car, even with the windows cracked, heats up to an unbearable degree. If you’ve ever gotten into a car that’s been left sitting in the sun, you know how uncomfortable it is until you cranked up the air conditioner and cool it off. Imagine having to sit in there for a half-hour or more? Every year we hear about dogs and, sadly children, who die from the heat when left in a car.

Humans, at least, can sweat and try to cool their body that way. Dogs cool themselves by panting, but that only works if the air they are breathing in is cooler than their body temperature. Add to that the fact they are wearing a fur coat (imagine sitting in that hot car with a winter coat on) and you can see it wouldn’t take long for a dog to be in trouble.

Exercising during the heat of the day is also a danger for our dogs (and ourselves). Bottom line is to avoid things that can cause heatstroke and to make sure everyone drinks plenty of water.

What to do if you see dog in a hot car? Call the police immediately and see if you can locate the owner to get the dog out as soon as possible. Don’t offer too much water right away, as that can cause vomiting (and further dehydration). Sponge the dog down with cool (not cold – don’t want to cause shock) water and bring inside or into shade. Lightly fan the dog to promote cooling and try to take their temperature so you can assess the risk. If the temperature is over 103 degrees, a veterinarian should see the dog, as damage could have been done to internal organs.

Play it safe during the hot months and leave your pets comfortably at home. Leave the radio on and give them stuffed kongs, and they won’t even know you’ve been gone. Then you can enjoy a day of worry-free shopping and a happy greeting when you get home. I know you feel good when your dog is with you, but wouldn’t you feel better knowing that your dog is safe?


Upcoming events 

• Kidz ‘n Critters Summer Camp is happening. There are still a few slots left for kids going into grades 2-7. Check out more information online at www.rpanimalshelter.,org or by stopping by the shelter.


• No more lost pets: Free microchips and pet ID tags for residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati. Stop by the shelter during our open hours with your pet to get one. The shelter is open Wednesday 1-6:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday 1-5:30 p.m. and Sun 1-4:30 p.m.


Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at

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