Leah Braithwaite with the SPCA flyer entitled “10 Minutes to Disaster.” This flyer provides well-intentioned pet owners of how quickly an animal can suffer fatal consequences when shut in a car on a warm sunny day.

Local preventing 10 minutes to disaster

Sooke woman on crusade to prevent over-heated pets in cars

Dealing with hot dogs

Did you know that in little as 10 minutes in a car can do serious harm to an animal?  According to the BC SPCA, 10 minutes, even with the windows partially open, is enough to seriously harm—or even kill—your pet.

To that end, Leah Braithwaite of Sooke is leaving a SPCA informational flyer on the windshield of any car in which she sees a dog.

“I have a passion for animals and they can’t speak for themselves,” she said, “so I speak for them.”

This is her second year handing out these flyers in Sooke and beyond, something she tries to do everyday. When she sees an animal inside a car—mostly dogs but she has seen cats—she will monitor that animal. If it appears to be in distress, Braithwaite calls both the SPCA and the RCMP. An animal rescue is then activated. If the animal appears to be okay for the time being, Braithwaite leaves the SPCA informational flyer on the windshield. She will continue to monitor the vehicle and the animal, waiting for the owner to arrive, and ensuring the animal is safe.

So far, she has handed out over 80 flyers in Sooke. She has also handed out flyers in Westshore and beyond.

Braithwaite is sometimes greeted with appreciation, and sometimes with anger. She does it for the animals, and wants to provide information to pet owners—whose intentions are good—about the hazards of prolonged car confinement.

According to their Speaking for Animals brochure, if it is 26°C outside, inside a car—even with the windows cracked—the temperature can reach 37°C in 10 minutes and 43°C in 20 minutes

Dogs left in a car might show symptoms well after they have returned home. Signs of heatstroke include the following:

• Exaggerated panting (or the sudden stopping of panting);

• rapid or erratic pulse;

• salivation;

• anxious or staring expression;

• weakness and muscle tremors;

• lack of coordination;

• tongue and lips red (which may eventually turn bluish in colour);

• convulsions or vomiting;

• and last but not least, collapse, coma and death.

If any of these symptoms appear, the BC SPCA suggest you move the dog to a cooler area, wet them with water (but no ice!), and fan vigorously to help cool them down. Allow the dog to drink, and take it to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

No matter what separation anxieties you may be hoping to save your dog from, the BC SPCA makes this recommendation: “Your dog will be more comfortable if left at home.”

For those who see an animal in a car, Braithwaite recommends monitoring the animal’s confinement. If it extends beyond 10 minutes, or if the animal is panting heavily or unresponsive, call the appropriate authorities.

The BC SPCA’s Animal Cruelty Hotline can be reached at 1 (855) 6BC SPCA (1-855-622-7722).

The call centre is open seven days per week: Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

If it is an animal emergency outside of these hours, please contact the RCMP (250-642-5241) or animal control immediately.

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