Nearly every day in spring and summer, Loudoun County Animal Control Officers respond to reports of pets left inside cars on hot days. The cars are usually found in shopping center parking lots, and the pet owners often offer the same response - "I was only in the store for a few minutes." Not only is it illegal to leave an animal in a car when the outside temperature is above 70 degrees and the temperature inside a vehicle is above 80 degrees, it can also be deadly.
Studies show that even when the high temperature is a relatively cool 72 degrees, a car's internal temperature will rocket to 116 degrees within 60 minutes. Keeping the windows slightly open hardly slows the rise at all. Pets are vulnerable to heat stroke at temperatures over 110 degrees.
Loudoun County Animal Control officials remind pet owners that heat is especially hard on pets because they can only cool themselves by panting and sweating through their paws. With only hot air to breathe, dogs and other animals can suffer irreparable brain damage and even die of heatstroke. Warning signs include restlessness, excessive thirst, heavy panting, lethargy, lack of appetite, dark tongue, rapid pulse, fever, vomiting, glazed eyes, dizziness, or lack of coordination. Immediate veterinary care is required for animals in this condition.
Anyone who sees unattended pets in hot cars should immediately:
1. Record the make, model, color, license plate number, and location of the vehicle.
2. Call Loudoun County Animal Services at 703-777-0406 or Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department non-emergency at 703-777-1021.
3. Report this information to the store/mall manager and ask that the owner of the pet be paged.
4. If possible, stay until an Animal Control Officer arrives to help them locate the vehicle quickly.
The best way to prevent pets from suffering in hot cars is to leave them at home . Pets should never be left unattended in vehicles, even if the air conditioning is running. It only takes a few minutes for a pet to suffer illness or even death inside a hot car. More information on the dangers of pets in hot cars is online at www.mydogiscool.com.
A link to Chapter 612.25 of the Loudoun County Codified Ordinances covering confinement of animals in vehicles is online at www.loudoun.gov/animal-laws .
Loudoun County Animal Services is dedicated to serve and protect the public's health and safety and to assure the welfare of animals by promoting and providing for their safe, humane and lawful treatment. The Loudoun County Animal Shelter is located at 39820 Charles Town Pike, Waterford, VA 20197. The Animal Shelter is open Saturday through Wednesday. Shelter information and directions can be found at www.loudoun.gov/animals .
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Media Contact: Amy Martin, Animal Shelter Administrator, 703-737-8097, firstname.lastname@example.org