We celebrate summer in an odd way at Helen Woodward Animal Center; by subjecting our PR Manager, John Van Zante, along with any willing members of the media, to scorching hot temperatures in a locked van. Don’t be alarmed! There is a method to the seeming madness. We simply want to save lives.
John says it pretty well: “Each summer we warn people not to leave their kids or pets in a parked car,” he says. “But there’s always somebody who just doesn’t get it. Again this year I’ll subject myself to the heat to show just how fast the temperatures can become deadly.”
The demonstration is pretty simple: you need a car, a thermometer, a hot day, and a willing participant. We got what we wanted from the weather, that’s for sure. The temperature was 88 degrees in our parking lot yesterday. Just standing outside in the sun was too hot for this spectator! Van? Check. Thermometer? Got it. Participants? John steps right up to the plate. Another brave soul is Jeff Zevely, a journalist from Channel 8 San Diego (KFMB). Who said being a journalist wasn’t exciting?
A small crowd of journalists, media camera crews, and slightly anxious employees gathered around. We know what heat can do to people and to animals. An animal care provider, here at the Center, once saw a dog overcome by heatstroke while locked in a car on a summer day. They said, “It’s the worst possible way I can imagine a pet to die.”
Within seconds of entering the car, John and Jeff were already sweating. Three minutes later, the gauge crept to 113 degrees. We could see Jeff toweling himself off in the car. Some of us began signaling to both of them with hand signals and shouts, “It’s time to get out, too hot!!” They sat and wilted a little while longer. Within seven minutes, the thermometer was at 116 degrees. That was too much, John and Jeff both exited the car, clearly grateful the demonstration was over.
While uncomfortable for a little while, participating in our demonstration is a small price to pay to show others that leaving a pet or child unattended in a car on a hot summer day can result in severe illness and even death. We’re grateful to Jeff for his willingness to take part in an important exhibition! We know that this demonstration teaches parents, of children and animals alike, the danger of leaving someone unattended in a hot car. It also exposes the myth that even leaving a window cracked will somehow stop the danger of heat stroke. It doesn’t! And we’ve proven it.
Here’s some facts about Heat Stroke danger for your canine family members:
- Heat stroke in a dog can begin with heavy panting and drooling, which is its primary way to sweat.
- Puppies, adult dogs that are large, overweight, older, or taking medication, are at higher risk.
- A 3-degree rise can put a dog into a dangerous situation and increase its need for oxygen.
- At 108 degrees the heart, brain, liver, kidneys, and intestinal tracts begin to break down.
- A temperature of 110 inside a car can cause heat stroke.
We hope that this demonstration is helpful for all you pet parents out there. Also, do not try this at home. John and Jeff had staff to assist them in this demonstration.
Check out our video to watch the event:
Special thanks to Jeff Zevely and Bill Tracey (Channel 8 San Diego), Carly Hill (North County Times), Brian Flores (Fox 5), Colleen Murphy and Bob from KUSI, that made the Heat Demonstration a priority! You are helping to save lives.
Heat Demonstration Media Round Up