By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest
As the summer months heat up, pets left behind in hot cars become a serious concern. In the next few months, dogs and other animals will perish in hot cars because their owners left them inside despite numerous public measures to prevent these unnecessary deaths.
Indeed, there is an ongoing effort to educate the public to the dangers of a hot car. But it is difficult for some pet owners to understand just how high temperatures can quickly rise in a vehicle with the windows rolled up.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund, for one, is particularly interested in the prevention of hot car pet deaths. Their programs educating the public have been extensive and have done excellent work. But the unfortunate reality is animals are still left in hot cars to die.
According to an article in the Boston Globe, a new Massachusetts law allows good Samaritans to break into a car if a dog or other pet is inside in the heat and the owner cannot be found. Sixteen other states have similar laws on the books.
Sadly, among the normally hot weather southern states, the BarkPost site reports that only Arizona has made it illegal to leave an animal “unattended and confined in a motor vehicle when physical injury or death of the animal is likely to result.”
Legislative initiatives are important because they help guide society toward becoming more safety conscious where animals are concerned.
Changing Society and Human Behavior
While legislation and education certainly go a long way to keep animals safe and out of the heat, a behavioral shift in society is needed to accommodate pets in public places. Of course, creating any shift in society’s behavior is not easy; it can require a massive grassroots effort combined with numerous other factors.
But American society already is changing how we view and treat pets. Restaurants and other stores now often provide pet water bowls outside and some shops even allow pets inside.
More stores and restaurants need to become animal friendly to keep pets out of the heat, even though this might create difficulties for customers who are allergic to animals. That, in turn, can create a serious medical emergency if the allergic reaction is severe enough.
Nevertheless, we must continue to educate the public and pass legislation to change societal behavior toward all manner of pets. If we can create a pet-friendly environment, we can save more animals from heat-related deaths in the process.