Have you seen a pet left in a hot car?

PRINCETON – Leaving a pet inside a vehicle on a hot summer day can be a deadly decision.

As the heat inside a vehicle quickly rises, pets suffer irreversible organ damage and eventually death, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise to dangerous levels. The Humane Society gives an example saying on an 85-degree day, the temperatures inside a vehicle with the windows open can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes.

After 30 minutes, the temperatures will reach 120 degrees. Even when the temperature outside is a balmy 72 degrees, the temperatures inside a car can rocket to a fatal 116 degrees in less than an hour.

Leaving a pet in the vehicle can also risk the possibility of receiving a misdemeanor charge.

Princeton Police Chief Tom Root confirmed his department has taken complaints from people who have witnessed someone leaving a pet inside a vehicle on a hot day.

He said most calls are from someone who left their pet in the vehicle while they’ve gone in to do some shopping in Walmart.

When this happens, usually the officer will locate the vehicle owner within the store to be questioned. Root said leaving pets in the vehicle is a cruelty to animals, and people can be ticketed with a misdemeanor.

According to the ASPCA, which works to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals, symptoms of overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse.

The ASPCA said animals with flat faces, like Pugs or Persian cats, are more prone to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, overweight and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.

Another thing to remember during the heat is not to leave animals lingering on hot asphalt. According to the ASPCA, being close to the ground, a pet’s body can heat up quickly and sensitive paw pads can burn.

The ASPCA warns if it’s suspected that a pet is suffering from heat stroke, get help from a veterinarian immediately.

If someone witnesses a pet left in the vehicle in the heat, they are encouraged to contact their local police station.

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Tips for keeping pets safe this summer
• Sunburn is a hazard for pets who spend time outdoors. Use a pet-safe sunscreen to protect pets from the sun's rays, which can cause skin cancer especially of the ears and nose.
• Keep pets inside moving cars during travel. Letting dogs travel with their head outside the open car window is dangerous. Flying particles and debris can cause eye damage, and some pets have fallen out of moving vehicles.
• Dogs should never ride unsecured in the back of pickup trucks, regardless of how slow the vehicle is moving.
• Take pets on walks in the early mornings or late evening, not in the heat of midday, and remember that hot pavement can burn the pads of pet's paws.
• Make sure pets have plenty of fresh water. Change it several times a day.
Source: The Humane Society of the United States.