Harrisonburg, Va.---A local veterinarian recommends pet owners to refrain from leaving pets in the car during the summer months because it can be deadly.
Veterinary Emergency Services Dr. Julia Carson said there are some visible consequences.
"If you see an animal panting heavily, their tongue out. In more severe cases they are completely lateral, laying on their side. No longer able to standup or function. They will start having seizures and they can slip into a coma very quickly," Carson said.
According to Carson, if the outside temperature is 75 degrees, a car can heat up to 115 degrees in just minutes.
"If you wouldn't leave your child in the car, you shouldn't leave your pet in the car," said Carson.
She said if you need to leave your pet in the car for a few minutes, the air conditioning must be running.
"The safest place for animals are at home. They don't need to go to the store. If they have separation anxiety, there is crate training, have somebody sit with them. But it's not safe to have them in the car in the summer," said Carson.
Pets can suffer heat exhaustion or severe heat stroke, if you leave them in a hot car for 10 to 30 minutes, according to Carson. However, in some cases you may not notice anything wrong with your pet, such as organs not properly working, until it is too late.
Dog Owner Cathryn Molloy said she wouldn't leave her dog in the car because she knows about the consequences.
"You have to plan ahead for things like if you are going to be in your car for a while then you need to make other arrangements for them and not have them with you because they are not going to be able to be in the car and wait for you into places where they can't go inside," said Molloy.
She said you should treat your pets, how you treat yourself.
"You wouldn't want to be left in the hot car so probably your pet wouldn't either," said Molloy.
The Harrisonburg Police Department said there is no law in Virginia forbidding you from leaving a pet in your hot car. However, if the pet shows signs of exhaustion, such as panting heavily or is lethargic, you could potentially be charged with animal cruelty. In addition, officers would check the temperature of the car with a gauge to see if it is too hot for an animal.
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