With temperatures expected to hit near 100 this week in the Ark-la-Tex, police are warning to be extra vigilant about leaving animals in the vehicle.
In Texarkana, it's illegal to leave your pet inside a car unattended for more than five minutes if the ambient outside temperature is 80 degrees or more.
On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. A pet may suffer irreversible organ damage or die.
"It's important to remember that it's not just the ambient temperature, but also the humidity that can affect your pet," says Dr. Barry Kellogg, VMD, of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. "Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly."
Police say if you do see an animal in a vehicle in some type of distress, call 911 and they will send someone right out. While you're waiting, try to locate the owner (maybe have them paged inside the business). Something drastic, like breaking out the car window, should only be done in the most extreme situations where you believe the animal might die if you don't do something immediately. In 99 percent of the cases, the best thing to do is to let police handle it.