Debra Metts travels throughout the Southeast with her three Labrador retrievers to shows and competitions.
During times of 100-plus degree temperatures, Metts said she knows she has to protect her dogs while in the car.
"What you have to do is be prepared," Metts said about the routine she follows when she travels with her dogs - Birdie, 7, Batman, 6, and Mac, 1. "I find a shady spot to park and, because I have an SUV, I open up the entire back end and put all the windows down and I have fans in there."
Birdie and Batman get to ride in the back seat on cool pads or frozen water bottles, while Mac travels with a battery-operated fan pointed into his kennel because he's too rambunctious to ride in the seat.
Not everyone is as conscientious about their pets' well being in hot temperatures, though. Pets, especially dogs, are being left in vehicles more often as people are traveling with their pets, said Linda Fulmer, the manager of Columbia County Animal Care and Control.
"Never leave your pet in a parked car, unventilated garage or other enclosed area for any length of time," Fulmer said, adding that her office responded to a handful of calls this past week about animals left in cars. "Even if the windows are slightly open, the car can still get way up over 100 degrees real quick."
On a warm, sunny day windows collect light, trapping heat inside the vehicle, according to the Humane Society of the United States. On an 85-degree day, the temperature inside a car with the windows slightly open can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes, and 120 degrees in 30 minutes.
Pets are in danger of heat stroke at 110 degrees. According to the humane society, temperatures inside a car parked in direct sunlight on a hot and humid day can rise more than 30 degrees per minute and can quickly become lethal to pets.
"(Dogs) can't sweat. All they can do is pant," Fulmer said, adding that many pet owners leave pets in the car while they make a quick 20-minute trip inside a store. "It (a pet) can be dead by the time you get out."
Fulmer said owners should avoid having pets in vehicles on warm days unless they are headed to the pet store or another place where they can get out of the car along with their owner.
If a pet must be left in the car, the vehicle should be left running with the air conditioning on, officials say.
Metts said most of the field work she does with her dogs is scheduled in the spring or fall, to avoid traveling with them during the hot months.
When travel is a must, Metts suggested freezing water bottles for the dogs to lie on to keep their bellies cool.
But it's not just pets in vehicles that concern Fulmer.
"We've had more calls this week for dogs outside with no shade, no shelter, no water, that type of thing, particularly ones that are tied up," Fulmer said Thursday, when temperatures spiked to more than 100 degrees.
Fulmer said animals, especially those kept outside, must have some kind of shade or shelter to escape the direct sun, and lots of fresh water. For animals who tend to tip over their water bowls, owners should attach bowls to something that can't turn over or provide more than one water bowl, Fulmer said.
"Put them a kiddie pool and fill it up with water," Fulmer said.
Pet owners discovered to have left animals in hot cars or to have not provided shade and water can be charged with a county ordinance violation under the animal cruelty statute and could face as much as six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, Fulmer said.
Fulmer said short-nosed dogs, including Chinese pugs, bulldogs and Boston terriers, elderly dogs and those with thick coats are especially at risk for heat-related illness.
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