Animal control: Don’t leave your puppy in the car

Published 8:00 am Friday, July 27, 2018

Heat can kill a pet in minutes, authorities caution

Polk County Animal Control Officer Patti Lovelace is warning residents that it is a felony if an animal dies of heat exhaustion from being locked in a hot car.

Even with the windows cracked, Lovelace said it only takes a few minutes for the heat to become life threatening.

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“People say, ‘I’m just running into the store for five minutes,’” Lovelace said. “Well in six minutes, your dog could be dead.”

Lovelace said Polk County Animal Control officers have seen dogs completely destroy the inside of a car in an attempt to get out.

“They can suffocate in minutes,” she said. “It’s a horrible way to die.”

Lovelace also cautioned about leaving the pet alone in the car with the air conditioning running. Not long ago, officers responded to an incident where a woman left her two service dogs in the car with the air conditioning running, Lovelace said.

Apparently, either the dogs hit the off switch or something happened to the air conditioner, because both dogs died in less than an hour.

“Anything can happen,” she said. “People should just not leave their dogs in the car this time of year.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association warns that even in 70-degree weather, it only takes 10 minutes for the temperature in a car to reach more than 90 degrees. In 80-degree weather, the temperature inside can reach 99 degrees in 10 minutes.

The AVMA states that cracking the windows makes no difference.

Lovelace said any uniformed officer can legally bust open a car window if they find an animal is in distress. She said if an animal is suffering from heat stress, the best treatment is cool, not ice cold, water on its body. Rubbing alcohol on their footpads and body can also help.

“Allow them to drink as much cool water, not ice cold, as they want, but do not force water,” she said.

So far this summer, neither Polk County Animal Control nor the Landrum Police Department have had any calls about pets left in vehicles.

For more information about helping pets in hot weather, people can visit the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at or talk with their veterinarian.