A Familiar Danger Returns: Children & Pets Left in Cars
Under a blazing sun, Bobby Smith has a worry. "My biggest fear is a death and us not able to save an animal. That has happened before."
With the start of summer a week away, we'll be back in the 90s in no time. In that heat, the inside of a parked car can see an uptick in temperature in just minutes. Authorities are preparing to respond to an all-too common danger.
You'd think everyone would know by now, but reports of stranded dogs in hot cars have actually increased. Last month, in Washoe County alone, dispatchers received 68 high priority calls for dogs left in cars on hot days. That's 5 times the number reported in May last year, when there were 13 calls for dogs in vehicles.
Often, they don't get there in time…like a certain Chihuahua. Washoe County Animal Services Manager Barry Brode told us, "Due to the dehydration it just flattened out. Its heart just stopped, due to heat stroke."
Bobby Smith, who's Field Supervisor with Washoe County Regional Animal Services, recalls a stranded pit bull pup that almost met the same fate. "This was one of the good times. The animal checked out OK…we were able to get there quick enough." What do people tell him when he asks why they left their pet in a hot car? Smith says he often hears, "I just went into the store for a minute." Bobby now carries with him a window-breaking tool.
There's something a lot of people just don't know: leaving dogs or cats in hot cars is a crime…its right there in your drivers handbook. Like Bobby, any police or firefighter can legally break your car windows to rescue animals. And yes, there's a similar law regarding children. Brode told us a car's inside heat "Is going to affect children as well, because they're strapped in a car seat."
One o'clock. The temperature: 79 degrees. A demonstration car comes out of the garage, and we watch how quickly it turns deadly inside. After 10 minutes, the stuffed dog inside is measured. Bobby Smith calls out, "95.5!"
But the stuffed dog is shaded. In the sun, the dashboard reads 116 degrees...a fatal temperature, especially since there's typically no shade in parking lots. Sadly, Bobby knows he'll encounter some tragedies this summer. He does what he can do, telling us on camera, "We ask people not to bring their animals out in those weather conditions."
If you see a pet or child stranded in a car, they ask you to call Washoe County Regional Animal Services Dispatch at 322-3647.
Sunday, May 26 2013 1:49 AM EDT2013-05-26 05:49:26 GMT
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