As the thermometer climbs with the arrival of summer’s hottest, most humid months, animal care authorities are reminding local residents to keep things cool for their pets, as the mercury hits 90-degree temps and beyond.

Cullman Police Department animal control officer Rodney Banister said he often hears from concerned citizens who reach out when they see pets left unattended in hot cars. Equipped with informational brochures and plenty of knowledge about why that’s a dangerous idea, Banister says his goal isn’t to punish or penalize pet owners; but rather to educate them on what the heat can do to the cats and dogs.

“When I get a call like that, usually I’ll wait for the owner to come back to their vehicle, and I’ll share one of our info sheets that explains what the temperatures inside the car can feel like — even if it’s only been turned off for a short period of time,” he said.

“A lot of people mean well, and don’t necessarily know that their putting their pets at risk when they park and run inside a store for just a quick errand, so I’m really trying to just inform them. A hot car with no ventilation is a dangerous environment for an animal.”

To get some perspective on what the greenhouse effect can do to a car’s interior, here’s how the sun can change the temperature inside a vehicle in only a short matter of time:

• On a 70-degree day, it takes 10 minutes for temps to reach 89 degrees inside the car; and 30 minutes to reach 104 degrees.

• On an 80-degree day, it takes 10 minutes for temps to reach 99 degrees inside the car; and 30 minutes to reach 109 degrees.

• On a 90-degree day, it takes 10 minutes for temps to reach 109 degrees inside the car; and 30 minutes to reach 124 degrees.

• On a 95-degree day, it takes 10 minutes for temps to reach 114 degrees inside the car; and 30 minutes to reach 129 degrees.

One myth that informs the behavior of many well-meaning pet owners is that parking a vehicle in the shade can prevent that kind of tremendous heat from building up — but Banister says that’s simply not the case.

When faced with a choice about whether to bring your pet along for the ride in the summertime, he adds, it’s often best simply to leave your dog or cat at home — where they have the freedom to move toward comfort, safety, and their water bowls.

“Pets are helpless to rescue themselves when they’re left in your vehicle, and that one-minute trip inside the store you thought you’d be making can often turn into a 10-minute trip. We run into a friend, or we get caught in a line, and the next thing you know, you pet is trapped inside a car that’s getting hotter by the second.

“Usually, the best thing you can do for you pets if you’re running local errands is simply to make sure they have plenty of shelter and water back at home, and to let them stay behind — where you know they’ll be safe.”

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