Reader points out dangers of hot cars
I had the unhappy experience of finding two golden retrievers in the back seat of a gray BMW 535i at the Harris Teeter on Lighthouse Road this morning. They were panting heavily, and one lay across the rear seat with its head lolling off. His body pumped quickly in short breaths.
On one side, the car windows were cracked about 2 inches. The others were shut. I called to the dogs quietly, and neither responded. It was 8:30. I have never called Animal Control before, but this appeared to be the right time.
Dispatch explained that an officer had to be sent from Georgetown. I knew it could easily be 40 minutes before they arrived. I shopped and called again. The officer was on the way. The back windows of the car had steamed up from the dogs’ panting.
I asked a likely couple exiting the store with a number of grocery bags in their cart if the car was theirs. It was. They denied a problem and told me to “get a life,” and upon climbing in the passenger seat, the wife said, “I wish you could see how cool it is in this car,” and “They’re panting because they just went for a walk.”
It had been 35 minutes since I parked next to their car and first noticed the dogs in the back seat. The dog owners’ complacency was stunning, and I told them so.
In 2005, Stanford Medicine News Center discussed the results of a study about how quickly air heats up when trapped in the car. Dr. Catherine McLaren, Dr. James Quinn and Jan Null, an independent meteorologist, measured the “temperature rise inside a parked car… with highs ranging from 72 to 96 degrees F.
“Their results, published in the July issue of the journal Pediatrics, showed that a car’s interior can heat up by an average of 40 degrees F within an hour, regardless of ambient temperature. Eighty percent of the temperature rise occurred within the first half-hour.”
“…the caretaker sometimes takes certain precautions, such as cracking a window or running the air conditioner prior to parking the car. But the researchers found that such measures are inadequate: a cracked window had an insignificant effect on both the rate of heating and the final temperature after an hour, and the air conditioner trick only delayed the temperature spike by about five minutes.”
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) published the temperatures of a car based on rising time. At 30 minutes and 75 degrees F outside, the temperature inside that BMW would have been 109. At 40 minutes, it would have risen to 113. The dogs had just been walked, so their internal body temperature was already higher because of exercise. Add to that their thick coats, and it was a recipe for brain damage or death.
I am not sorry I called. I’m not sorry I confronted the owners. I only hope the exchange was unpleasant enough that their cavalier attitude fades and they think twice about what is obviously a habit: walk the dogs, shop, buy coffee and stroll out to the shuttered car and their prostrate dogs.
This was a seminal case of animal cruelty. Would they have left a child in that car? Probably not.
If you see that gray BMW 535i at Harris Teeter in the morning, check the back seat.
Local businesses support MS fundraiser
Thank you to the wonderful folks listed here who donated products or gift cards that we used in our silent auction for our recent multiple sclerosis (MS) fundraiser. Your generosity is most appreciated. We had lots of fun with the bids and raised lots of funds for such a worthy cause.
Consumers have choices to spend our dollars — please let these businesses know you value their give back to the community.
Thank you to: Bicycle Connection, the Cottage Café, Big Fish Grill (Ocean View), Sea Colony Tennis Center, Dickens Parlour Theatre, SoDel Concepts, Hair Cuttery, lululemon, Jafra, Massages by Jessica, Bed Bath & Beyond and Every1Fitness.