Dothan First reported that four of the dogs died in the car while the fifth had to be euthanized by a veterinarian after suffering irreparable injuries due to heat exhaustion.
No one has been charged in the dogs’ deaths as police investigate the incident. The dogs’ owner claims to have left the vehicle running and the air conditioner on for the dogs. But, she says one of the dogs bumped into the controls and accidentally turned the vehicle’s heater on. Dothan Police have not confirmed the owner’s story.
Reporters were told by witnesses that concerned customers busted out the car’s window in an attempt to save the dogs, but reached them too late.
The weather outside was approximately 80-degrees at the time of the dogs’ deaths.
Because dogs do not sweat, aside from a small amount through their paw pads, they depend on breathing and panting to exchange warm air for cool air. When the air temperature is as warm or warmer than their body temperature – such as inside a vehicle parked in the sun – they are unable to cool themselves and can very quickly enter heat stroke.
Heat stroke is an emergency and, when left untreated, is an excruciatingly painful way for a dog to perish. During severe heat stroke, dogs will pant heavily, have difficulty breathing, and begin to vomit. They will often pass loose, bloody stools before collapsing and having seizures. Eventually the dog will enter a coma and die. Many times, even if a dog is rescued before death, permanent damage to the heart, kidneys, or brain is possible.
Although the temperature outside may be nice, it only takes a few minutes for a car parked in the sun, even with the windows opened, to become an oven to a dog.
Please, remind friends and family to not leave dogs in parked cars, even when the weather is nice, even for only a few minutes.
If you cannot take the dog inside with you, leave them at home.