Even when your car is parked under the shade on cooler days, cars can heat up to extremely dangerous levels which can prove to be fatal for children or animals. In fact, when it’s a cool 22°C outside, the temperature inside a car can soar to 47°C within an hour!
After all the news coverage on reported children deaths, the public is becoming more aware of the dangers of leaving a child unattended in the car for long periods. But can we say the same about animals?
Many still do not realize that animals too can suffer from heatstroke just like us humans. It is important to note that dogs are no less susceptible to the scorching Malaysian heat as we are. They will feel every bit as uncomfortable and tortured in high temperatures as humans do.
Unlike humans, dogs can pant to help cool themselves down. But when they’re stuck in a hot stuffy car, dogs are unable cool themselves down. And no, leaving the car window open is not good enough.
If dogs are unable to reduce their body temperature, they will develop heatstroke. Watch out for heatstroke symptoms such as heavy panting, restlessness, excessive thirst, thick saliva, lethargy, lack of appetite, dark tongue or gums, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, diarrhoea, lack of coordination, and loss of consciousness in extreme circumstances.
It is important to keep in mind that some dogs are also more prone to heatstroke. For example, dogs with short snouts, fatter or heavily-muscled dogs and long-haired breeds, as well as very old, young, or sickly dogs.
If ever your dog shows any symptoms of heatstroke, move your pet to a shaded area and call your vet for advice immediately.
Heatstroke can be fatal and should always be treated as an emergency.
As an owner, you have a legal responsibility to care for your pet. Section 44 (d) of the Animals Act penalizes owners who cause any unnecessary pain or suffering to any animal.
On top of that, you would also have to live with the fact that your actions resulted in great suffering for your pet.
A recent Facebook video that has since gone viral shows a Shih-Tzu stuck in a parked car in KLCC. I must admit that I do not know the circumstances of the situation, but Christopher Aaron who noticed the agitated dog was understandably concerned for the animal.
“The second I got into my car (to go home) this head popped up behind the window of the car beside mine, panting and scratching at the window helplessly,” said Christopher.
He said that after a quick inspection, he found that none of the car windows were opened, and there were no signs of a water bowl or any treats for the dog to snack on.
“I walked to the front to feel the hood of the car, to see if it was still warm. But it was cold - a sign that the engine had been switched off for quite a while already,” says Christopher.
The guards were then called to be notified of the situation: “They were as helpful as they could be and showed quite a bit of concern. They also tried calling a bunch of people on their walkies, but to no avail.”
“Everyone they called were either not available, or just didn’t know what to do about the situation,” he said.
As Christopher waited over an hour for the dog’s owner to return, he saw several cars pass by the scene without saying a word.
“After an hour of waiting, the guards kept telling me there was nothing that could be done, and they kept urging me to go back - I don't blame them, if I stayed, there would have been nothing but more problems,” he said.
So with disappointment and a heavy-heart, Christopher left because it was getting late.
This situation makes me wonder if the security personnel would have acted differently if it was a child instead of an animal.
"Of course they would," people would say. But isn’t an animal also a living creature, should we care for them any less?
“It really isn't just this one instance that bothers me - it's everything about the way some humans cruelly treat animals,” reflected Christopher.
I agree with Christopher, I’ve seen and heard of many cases where innocent dogs are abused by their owners. But in regards to the issue of leaving pets (and children) unattended in cars, there is something we can do about that.
Spread the message that animals can suffer from heatstroke too, and it can be fatal! Help to prevent this situation from happening to other pets by spreading the information by sharing this article.
> The views expressed are entirely the writer's own.