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Seven Dogs Die

It’s been several years since we’ve had to report on the tragic loss of dogs left in a truck or van when the weather was too warm. Unfortunately it has happened again. I can’t think of anything more painful to report or more painful for people who love dogs to have to think about. This is a senseless tragedy for everyone involved.

A young woman who evidently had been paid to show several dogs returned home to Arnold, Mo., from shows in Iowa after midnight June 21, with eight dogs in her van. She reportedly said that it was too hot in her garage to unload the dogs to that location, so she left them in the van. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that she told police that she put six fans in the van and left one door open and the windows partly open, according to Capt. Ralph Brown of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the Post-Dispatch, the woman told police that she checked on the dogs about 4 a.m. but when she went back to them at 6:30 a.m. she found five of them unresponsive; she said that she hosed the dogs down in an attempt to revive them and then drove to the vet’s office in nearby House Springs. However, the veterinarian to which the dogs were taken, Dr. Laura Ivan, said that the first call she received to her cell phone that morning was at 9:08 a.m., followed by a 9:20 call to her office. The woman arrived at Dr. Ivan’s office with the dogs at 9:30 a.m. Six of the dogs were already dead and the seventh died on Tuesday morning. The eighth dog, a Siberian, was still holding on at press time.

Although it might seem that temperatures are not too warm to leave a dog in a vehicle with windows partly open, any time it is above even 50 degrees no one should risk leaving show dogs in an enclosed vehicle — even with the windows partly open. It is never worth the risk. When this tragedy occurred, the National Weather Service reported that it was 83 degrees at 1 a.m. on Monday and 80 degrees at 6 a.m. Temperatures in even a partly enclosed vehicle rise very rapidly. Dogs do not sweat; they pant to release body heat, which exacerbates the rise in temperature in an enclosed area.

It is not safe to leave dogs in an enclosed vehicle even for 15 minutes. Please, assume that it will be too hot. Always, always err on the side of caution. The best rule: never leave dogs in a vehicle unattended. It’s never worth risking the lives of the dogs for which you are responsible. If there is not an appropriate kennel space in which to transfer dogs in crates or if circumstances require that dogs be left in a vehicle, someone must stay in the vehicle with the dogs; otherwise the dogs must be moved into a house, hotel room or open area where they will not be in danger.

Sadly there is nothing we can do to erase the tragedy in Missouri, but we can say it again and again and again: never leave dogs in a vehicle unattended. Every kennel club must repeat this to its members. AKC must repeat it. The announcement must be made at every dog show held in this country throughout the summer, into fall, and starting again in the spring. Every magazine, newsletter, blog, chat list — every method by which fanciers communicate --- must constantly remind people not to leave dogs in a vehicle. Please, remind your fellow fanciers. You can’t say it too many times. No one wants this kind of tragedy to happen. We must help prevent future tragedies by constantly talking about it and reminding others at every opportunity.

Christi McDonald, Editor

The fancy lost a beloved figure on June 16 when Dorothy Nickles passed away at the age of 99. In an unrelated tragedy, on June 23 AKC rep Michael Suave was found dead of an apparent heart attack. We will have memorials for both Ms. Dorothy and Michael in the next issue.



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