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Dogs in hot cars can be deadly – but not always illegal


With temperatures soaring toward he triple digits, leaving your dog in a car can be deadly — but according to Oregon law, it’s not necessarily illegal.

Still, the best thing to do — or not to do — is clear.

“Definitely don’t leave your dog in a car,” Lynne Ouchida with the Humane Society of Central Oregon said Thursday.

It happens all too often, though.

“Right now, we’re receiving six to 12 calls a day regarding dogs in hot vehicles,” said Bend police Officer Canyon Davis.

Ouchida said, “We average approximately 20 to 30 calls a day.”

On Facebook we heard from a viewer who found two dogs left in a car for an hour.

According to the viewer, Redmond police left a sticker at the window notifying the owner their dog might be dying. Sometimes that is all that law enforcement officers can do.

“It might not be a nice thing to do to your dog, but if it’s not illegal, I don’t have the legal authority to enter somebody’s vehicle,” Davis said.

In 16 years, Bend police officers have entered only 15 cars.

There are only 16 states where it is illegal, and Oregon is not one of them. However, a new law passed earlier this year that makes it easier for officers to enter vehicles.

Now officers can intervene quicker, if they feel that a dog’s life is in imminent danger.

“As we approach the vehicle, we have a laser thermometer that gives a digital readout,” Davis said.

The officers also pay close attention to some of the typical warning signs of a dog that is overheating:

– exaggerated panting
– rapid or erratic pulse
– salivation
– anxious or staring expression
– weakness or muscle tremors
– lack of coordination
– tongue and lips very red (may turn bluish)
– convulsion or vomiting
– collapse, coma, death

Police dogs are used to spending plenty of time in cars.

“We go ahead and leave our dogs in the car while we’re out working in the field,” said K-9 Deputy Doug Johnson with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office. “We just have to leave our patrol cars with air conditioning running.”

The air conditioning also has a backup system.

“It will set off the emergency lights, roll down the windows, turn on a fan and also send as a page,” Johnson said.

From the pager, officers can always monitor the temperature inside the car.

“We treat him like he is one of our kids,” Jackson said.

If you see a dog in a hot car, call the non-emergency hotline of the local police department.

If your dog shows symptoms of heatstroke, follow these instructions:

– immediately move the animal to a cool shady place
– wet the dog with cool (not cold) water
– fan rapidly to promote evaporation
– do not apply ice
– allow dog to drink water

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