CRESTVIEW — With daily temperatures in the 90s, popping into shop “for a minute” while leaving a pet in the car can be like leaving them in an oven.
A 10-minute stop on a 95-degree day can raise the car's temperature to 114 degrees, according to information provided by the Crestview Police Department.
Shopping for an hour or more — let alone 13 hours, as a local woman did last week in the Crestview Wal-Mart, causing her dog's death — can elevate the car's temperature to 140 degrees or more.
---WATCH: Learn how to prevent heat stroke for your pets! Video below ---
“Animals can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in as little as 15 minutes,” an article in the July CPD newsletter states.
“Basically they go through heat exhaustion like a human,” Panhandle Animal Welfare Society Executive Director Dee Thompson said. “It’s really horrible. The brain damage can happen quickly. Unfortunately you can’t turn it around.”
LEAVE PETS HOME
There is really no reason to take a pet while running errands, Thompson said.
“I’ve had dogs forever but not once have they asked me to be taken to Wal-Mart or the grocery store,” Thompson said. “It’s just not necessary because you just can’t say how long you’re going to be in there. You can become distracted or meet somebody or just temporarily forget that the pet is in the car.”
The solution isn't leaving the engine running and the A/C on, Thompson said.
“Leaving the car running unattended is against the law,” she said. “People think, ‘Oh, I’ll just leave it running.’ You know how a car idles: after a while it stops blowing cool air.”
KEEPING AN EYE OUT
Wal-Mart regional manager Jon Kurpil said employees, particularly those collecting shopping carts in the store’s parking lot, routinely look out for unattended children and pets in vehicles.
“When they do run across something like that, they alert management so we can make PA announcements,” Kurpil said.
Kurpil said he has not heard whether Wal-Mart upper management intends to embrace People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' recommendation that large stores stencil "Too Hot For Spot!" graphics on each parking space.
PETA offered the stencil at no charge after news of the Crestview woman's arrest spread nationally.
Crestview Police spokesman Lt. Andrew Schneider said the agency requests that residents who see unattended pets in cars immediately call PAWS or the police Department.
“If you leave an animal inside of a vehicle unattended, we will break the windows of your vehicle to save the animal, and you will be arrested, charged and transported to the jail immediately upon your return to your vehicle,” Schneider stated in a press release. “The Crestview Police Department remains diligent in the enforcement of animal cruelty cases.”
“I’ve never been able to comprehend why people take the risk,” Thompson said. “It’s not a pleasant demise for an animal.”