On one very warm spring morning when I was out running errands, I saw a car parked in the shade with windows partially rolled down. Inside was a beautiful dog with her nose sticking out through the top of one of the windows. She was panting heavily, obviously overheated.
Later in the week when I was out walking, I heard a dog barking and then saw him running around in an unfenced yard playing with a ball that was being tossed to him by a youngster.
In the first case I ran into the store that the parked car carrying the dog was near, thinking that maybe her owners were inside. I wanted to tell them the dog was in dire danger of severely overheating and having a fatal heat stroke.
Just as I was asking a clerk to make an announcement to customers about this poor dog, we saw a woman carrying her purchases and getting into that car to leave, which was a tremendous relief. But I fervently wished there would have been an opportunity to tell the woman how quickly a pet can suffer from a heat stroke and die when left in a car that can heat up in minutes even when parked in the shade.
Dogs don't have sweat glands. They can only dispel heat by panting and through the pads of their paws, which makes it vital to keep them cool during spring and summer, and make sure they have plenty of fresh drinking water.
If a pet is in distress from overheating, rush the pet to the nearest veterinary hospital immediately. During the trip to the veterinarian, water-soaked towels can be placed on the pet's head, neck, feet, chest and abdomen.
If you see a pet left in a car on a warm day and cannot locate the owner, call the nearest law enforcement agency and ask for help, then wait until a law enforcement officer arrives.
Pets living outside during warm weather also need special protection from the heat. Doghouses should be placed in shady locations and a fresh water supply should always be available. Water containers can be placed in a dug out section of the yard where they cannot be overturned, or be otherwise stabilized. Whenever possible four-legged family members should be kept indoors the majority of time for their comfort and well-being.
In the second case when I saw of the young dog running around in an unfenced yard chasing a tossed ball I stopped and kindly reminded the boy who was playing with him how the dog could dash out of the yard into the street and get hit by a car before he had a chance to catch him. I also asked him to tell his parents that pets must be confined to their yards in both the city and county which protects them.
Then I explained that since his dog had no collar on and no identification tag that if the dog got lost nobody would know how to contact his owners. Both an identification tag with the owner's name, address and phone number should be kept on pets at all times. Rabies tags are also required to be kept on pets' collars. These tags contain the name of the pet's veterinary hospital. But if the pet is lost on a weekend when vet clinics and hospitals are closed the owner cannot be contacted which make a person ID tag so important.
By just taking a few easy precautions we can save the lives of our innocent pets. We also urge spreading the word in a kind way when we see endangered pets whose owners don't realize how vulnerable their four-legged family members really are.
Paws up this week to: Linda Lipps; Diane Keaton; Mary Margaret Stamper; Allen Mincey; and all who rescued a pet with the assurance of providing a long, wonderful life in a forever home.
Call me with your pet and wildlife stories, 728-5414, or write to: E.S.P., P.O. Box 4864, Cleveland, TN 37320.