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Doggie don’ts for hot days: Temperatures in cars climb quickly to dangerous levels

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As the weather heats up, it’s important to remember that leaving Fido, Spot or Fluffy in the car is never a good idea.

The Grand Forks Police Department gets about two calls a week from concerned citizens reporting dogs locked in cars while their owners run errands, according to Community Service Officer Jean Youshefski.

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“Leave the dogs at home if at all possible,” she said.

Arlette Moen, the executive director of the Circle of Friends Human Society in Grand Forks, said the biggest issue is that most people don’t realize how detrimental the heat can be on their beloved pooch.

“It’s always important that people be educated,” she said. “Sometimes people don't realize the short time it takes for temperatures to rise to dangerous levels.”

The temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes on an 85-degree day, according to the Humane Society. After 20 minutes, the temperature can teach 120 degrees.

The National Weather Service also says a dark dashboard or seat can easily reach over 200 degrees in the sun.

Youshefski said big dogs suffer the fastest, as they aren’t able to crawl to a smaller, cooler space on a car’s floorboards.

When police respond to a call, Youshefski said they often find the owner left the dog with a bowl of water, but that doesn’t help when the temperature gets extremely hot.

“It may give them water but it doesn't help that increase in body temperature,” Moen said. “That leads to damage to their nervous system and cardiovascular system.”

Citizens should not take any action on their own and are urged to call the police if they see an animal in a car that appears to be distressed. While a citation isn’t issued every time, Youshefski said they respond to every call, just in case.

While the business that owns the parking lot has the ability to page the pet-owner and request that they take care of the situation, they are also urged to call the police.

“Some people get really mad,” Youshefski said. “They say they do it all the time and their dog is OK. Other people are surprised.”

Depending on the situation, police may charge a pet owner with cruelty to animals, which carries a mandatory court appearance and a $1,000 fine or 30 days in jail.

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Anna Burleson
Anna Burleson is the higher education reporter for The Grand Forks Herald. She is a 2013 graduate of the University of South Dakota's Mass Communication program and is originally from Watertown, S.D. Contact Burleson with story ideas or tips by either phone, email or Twitter, all of which are listed below. More examples of her work can be found at grandforksherald.com.
(701) 780-1114
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