Here is some good news for animal lovers: More emergency responders in New York State can now rescue unattended animals left in vehicles that are too hot – or too cold in winter.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed a bill that allows firefighters and other first responders to save animals from vehicles when they are in dangerous conditions by reducing the wait times – every minute can be a matter if life and death – when 911 calls come in to police about endangered pets.
“Leaving a pet in a stifling hot or freezing cold car is inhumane and potentially dangerous, and emergency responders should have the ability to remove them if necessary,” Cuomo said in a news release announcing the signing of the legislation. “As a dog owner myself, I am proud to sign this measure into law to help ensure the safety and well-being of animals.”
The bill, which went into effect immediately, will prevent delays in cases where law enforcement is not immediately available.
The revision to the state’s agriculture and markets law lets emergency medical services workers and firefighters, including volunteer firefighters who are on duty, take the steps needed to safely secure animals when assistance is requested.
Safeguarding your pets
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) makes the following suggestions for keeping your animals safe in the summer heat:
- Avoid hot cars. Never leave an animal in a parked car in warm weather, even for short periods with the windows slightly open. Dogs trapped inside parked cars can succumb to heatstroke within minutes—even if a car isn’t parked in direct sunlight.
- Never transport animals in the bed of a pickup truck. This practice is dangerous—and illegal in many cities and states— because animals can be catapulted out of a truck bed on a sudden stop or strangled if they jump out while they’re tethered.
- Keep dogs indoors. Unlike people, dogs can only sweat through their footpads and cool themselves by panting. Soaring temperatures can cause heatstroke, injury or death.
- Supply water and shade. If animals must be left outside, they should be provided with ample water and shade, and the shifting sun needs to be taken into account. Even brief periods of direct exposure to the sun can have life-threatening consequences.
- Walk — don’t run. In very hot, humid weather, never exercise dogs by cycling while they try to keep up or by running them while you jog. Dogs will collapse before giving up, at which point, it may be too late to save them.
- Stay alert and save a life. Keep an eye on all animals you see outdoors. Make sure that they have adequate water and shelter. If you see animals in distress, provide them with water for immediate relief and then contact humane authorities right away.
- Use a cooling vest or mat: Dog cooling equipment, such as wearable vests or bed mats, come in a range of materials and prices and help prevent overheating. Simply freeze or soak the items in cold water to keep dogs comfortable while on a walk or lounging. Placing cold water bottles in a dog’s bed also works.
- If you see dogs showing any symptoms of heatstroke — including restlessness, heavy panting, vomiting, lethargy, lack of appetite or loss of coordination — get them into the shade immediately. You can lower symptomatic dogs’ body temperature by providing them with water, applying a cold towel to their head and chest, or immersing them in tepid (not ice-cold) water. Then immediately call a veterinarian.
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