HOT DOG ALERT!
Today was our first warm day in quite a while, and it was so sudden after two freezing cold windy days. The temperature hit 85 degrees this afternoon, and that means people are likely to forget that it's too warm a day to leave your dog parked in a car. Case in point: As I was driving downtown on 11th Street toward the R Street Corridor to visit The Tea Cozy, I spotted an Animal Control van parked behind a car with lights flashing and one of their officers busy with one of those devices you slide down a car window to flip the latch. I knew what had happened. Someone had left their dog inside the car. The car was parked in the shade, but who knows how long the dog had been inside the car? All day? Lord, I hope not. I wish the officers had just broken the car window instead of wasting precious time trying to unlock the door.
I didn't stop then. The situation was clearly in hand, but a few minutes later on my way back I saw that the car door was open and they were citing a woman, for animal abuse, I hope (for all the good it will do). Perhaps if they had smashed her car window, she might have thought twice next time about leaving her dog locked inside the car. I yelled out the window, "Is the dog all right?" One of the officers nodded yes. I hope that was the truth and not just a way to appease a nosey dog lady or discourage any lookie-loos in the vicinity.
This is the first incident of the season that I know of. I pray it is the last. I am glad that many people seem more aware of this problem and many will intervene for a dog's survival who wouldn't have before. Remember, your dog is wearing a fur coat and he doesn't have sweat glands like we do to keep himself cool in hot weather. Dogs overheat very quickly when enclosed in a car, even if the windows are opened several inches. If you left your car in the shade, it may not be in shade for long. Shade moves. It doesn't take dogs long to suffer irreversible damage from heatstroke.
You may think the weather seems balmy, especially on overcast or breezy days, but most likely it is too hot for your dog if you leave him in the car. Weather is hard to predict these days, even for meteorologists, so the wisest and kindest thing you can do for your canine companion is to leave him at home. He'll be so much safer and happier cooling his belly under a ceiling fan than traipsing around with you to bake in a four-wheeled oven while you shop 'til he drops.