Busted window, overheated animal are some of the outcomes, campus security says

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There are animal lovers among every group of people. Plenty of these people will bring their dogs with them to the store, park or school. But what happens when the owner leaves the dog in the car during summer?

Most dogs have thick coats of fur, which can make it harder to lower their body temperatures in hot weather. Think of an 80-degree day. Some people love this kind of weather – it is a day out at the park for some. There is an estimated vehicle temperature versus time graphic on the American Veterinary Medical Foundation website. It shows that in 80-degree weather, the interior of a car gets up to around 114 degrees in about 30 minutes. Even with windows cracked, it does little to cool down the inside of a car.

Dogs don’t sweat like humans do, so their bodies won’t cool down in the same way. According to the American Kennel Club, dogs mostly rely on panting to regulate their temperature. Even so, it is not as efficient as a human sweating.

Nick Nelson / Staff Photos
Dogs can’t regulate their body temperature well in hot weather.

Alicia Everson, a digital design student, said when she see this, she feels bad for the dog, then irritated at the owner.

“I know how hot it gets, even with windows cracked,” she said.

Her action is to find the owner and alert the local businesses.

“I hang around the car depending on the situation. Then I would go into the store and give the license plate number,” she said. And she said she would not be angry if someone broke into her car to rescue her pet.

Dorene Paulson, a digital design professor and owner of two Whippets, believes there are overreactions.

“There are extreme cases where people go crazy. But there’s also cases where the dogs have been saved. It’s also become a stigma. If you left your dog in the car, you’re a ‘bad owner,’ ” she said.

It could be a matter of lack of education on the part of the pet owner.

“More educational push needs to be out there to not leave your dog in the car,” Paulson said.

Nick Nelson / Staff Photos
The interior of a car will get hot whether windows are cracked or not.

State law RCW 16.52.340 says, “To protect the health and safety of an animal, an animal control officer or law enforcement officer who reasonably believes that an animal is suffering or is likely to suffer harm from exposure to excessive heat, cold, lack of ventilation, or lack of necessary water is authorized to enter a vehicle or enclosed space to remove an animal by any means reasonable under the circumstances if no other person is present in the immediate area who has access to the vehicle or enclosed space and who will immediately remove the animal.”

Pierce College doesn’t allow pets and animals inside the school buildings. Pierce does not have independent procedures regarding dogs in cars besides state law, according to Campus Safety Director Jeffrey Schneider.

Schneider has experience with dogs in cars. “I came from Yakima, so we dealt with it a lot.”

“Ideally, we want to track down the owner. The parking permits let us know who the car owner is,” Schneider said. This way, he said Campus Security can find the owner in class or on campus.

“If we could not locate the owner – whether they’re not in class or they don’t have a parking sticker – once law enforcement shows up, they can smash the window to protect the animal and give the owner a ticket when they show up,” he said.

“The animal will die,” Jeff Schneider said.

Schneider suggests leaving the dog at home. “Don’t leave your dog in the car if it’s hot or even kind of hot.”