On July 22, 2016 tragedy struck in Roseland, Indiana. Humane Officer Hellums and myself met St. Joseph County Police Officers at the Quality Inn on Dixie Hwy in Roseland to discover that 14 canines had died when there was a power failure to a vehicle housing the animals. You can read more about this incident here. All of us here at the Humane Society of St. Joseph County are heavy-hearted over the loss of these fourteen beloved companion animals and our thoughts and prayers go out to their owners in this time of grief. We are continuing our investigation into this incident but nevertheless this is a tragic and devastating situation for all those involved. I just ask that we all respect the seriousness of this incident and show compassion to the nine owners who have lost their beloved pets.
If you follow our Facebook page you may have seen the many posts we’ve made about the dangers of leaving pets in vehicles and other precautions to take when we have extreme temperatures. Sometimes we forget that technology can fails us, cars overheat and shut off, and air conditioning units can stop working which can create very dangerous situations for not only humans but our animal counterparts. Even short “in-and-out” trips at the store can have deadly consequences. Studies have shown that even with windows cracked the temperature inside a vehicle and go up twenty degrees in ten minutes.
The average body temperature of a canine is between 101-102.5 degrees fahrenheit. Once the body temperature reaches 104 degrees and keeps rising heat stroke can set in. Check out this article by PetMD.com about keeping pets safe in extreme temperatures and the symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. If you feel like your pet may be suffering from heat stroke, contact your veterinarian immediately!
It is important that we all take steps to keep our pets and loved ones safe. Be sure your animals have adequate shelter from the intense heat and bitter cold. Pets should always have access to clean, fresh water. When temperatures are extreme keep walks and outside play times short and limited to cooler times of the day. Don’t forget that sidewalks and pavement can get hot very quickly. Press the palm of your hand onto the sidewalk or road before taking your pet for a walk. If you can’t stand to keep your hand pressed onto the sidewalk or pavement for longer than 10 seconds, then it is too hot for you to walk your pet on it. Tragic accidents do occur, but we must try our hardest to keep preventable accidents from happening.
So what do you do if you see an animal locked in a vehicle (even with windows cracked) or left outside without proper shelter and access to fresh water? CALL THE AUTHORITIES IMMEDIATELY! For situations in St. Joseph County or Mishawaka (excluding South Bend city limits) you can contact our Humane Officers 24/7 for emergency situations by calling (574) 255-4726 ext 0 during business hours and (574) 255-4726 ext 8 after hours and on Sundays. If you are in South Bend city limits you will need to contact South Bend Animal Care and Control at (574) 235-9303. Need immediate assistance? Call the police department. They will dispatch an officer and/or contact our on-call Humane Officer to respond ASAP.
What do you say when you call? In able to help us quickly find and help the animal in need we need a detail description of the make, model and color of the vehicle, license plate number, the exact location of the parked car, the time at which you first noticed the pet in the car, and a description of the animal. If the animal is at a residence please get the address. For our officer’s safety and to check our records to see if we’ve ever been out before, we need an exact address. Officers will also need a description of the animal (breed, color, size) and any other details about the complaint that will help us better investigate the incident.
Other Tips: If the vehicle is parked outside of a store or business go inside and speak to the manger after you’ve called the proper authorities. Inform the manger you have called the Police or Animal Control because there is a dog in a hot vehicle outside of their store. Give the manager the description of the vehicle and ask for them to page the owner to their car. If the owner comes out before authorities arrive, do not interfere because some people can become hostile (safety first!). Just take note of the license plate number and give it to the authorities when they arrive.
Please help us keep our community safe and pass this information on to your friends and family.
-Genny Carlson, Executive Director