911 calls about dogs left in hot cars are rising

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WEST MICHIGAN -- Calls to rescue dogs from hot cars skyrocketed this summer, according to the Kalamazoo and Kent County Humane Societies.

"[Animal services] are flooded with calls," said Julie Barber, Kalamazoo Humane Society director of community connections. “The answer is it’s not okay ever. If you’re going somewhere where your dog isn’t welcome, don’t bring your dog. That’s really the bottom line.”

To illustrate how a car can act like a greenhouse, FOX 17 conducted a mini experiment. We placed a thermometer inside a jeep. Within 20 minutes, even indirect sunlight heated the car from 80 to about 115 degrees.

“Ten to 15 minutes is actually long enough to kill your dog," said Barber. “Dogs expel heat through panting and through the pads of their paws. Unfortunately when a dog is sitting in a car their paws are already on a hot surface, which kind of cancels out any help that would offer them.”

Back in August 2013, Barber showed pictures of an American bulldog rescued from a hot car: he was heavily panting even while cooling down next to a fan in the shelter. Barber says cracking windows, leaving the air conditioner running, or parking in the shade can still permanently hurt your dog, if not become deadly.

“Just like a child who gets a really high fever for a long period of time, you can actually lose brain cells and suffer permanent damage, so can your dog just from being left in a hot car," she said.

Professionals also remind people to not break into cars to rescue a dog sitting in the heat: call 911.

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