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Eugene Police add 50 thermometers for officers responding to dogs in hot cars

Now that the weather is warming up, Eugene Police are arming patrol officers with thermometers to determine if dogs are in danger. Photo by Audrey Weil.

EUGENE, Ore. -- Eugene Police now have thermometers in their patrol cars for when they respond to pets in hot cars.

Before, only animal welfare officers carried them.

But now the Eugene Police Department has 50 in total, thanks to money from the city's risk services program.

Animal Welfare Supervisor Shawni McLaughlin said it's another tool at their disposal to determine if a dog is in danger.

She said, often times, police on patrol get called to the scene first.

"When we get those calls for service they're actually a higher priority call because an animals health is at risk potentially so if there's not an animal welfare officer that's available they'll send an available police officer," McLaughlin said.

She said now that the weather is warmer, it's important to remember that it's even hotter in the car.

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When we tested her thermometer Thursday, it was in the 70s outside, and the inside of the car registered above 90 F after about 10 minutes.

McLaughlin reminds pet owners that leaving a dog in a hot car is considered animal neglect, and it's possible to lose the rights to your animal.

Tips from Eugene Police:

  • Leave pets at home when running errands. Leaving your animal in a parked car, even for just a few minutes, can easily cause heat stroke or brain damage. On an 85-degree day, a car's interior temperature can climb to 104 degrees in 10 minutes, even with the windows slightly open. Dogs are especially vulnerable to heat stress because they do not sweat in the way that humans do; they release body heat by panting.
  • Dogs should not ride in uncovered pickup truck beds. The hot metal truck bed can burn your pet’s paw pads.
  • Keep pets inside during the heat of the day; do not leave them outside unattended.
  • Make sure pets have access to water bowls full of cool, fresh water.
  • When pets are outside, be sure to provide shaded areas for them to rest in and invest in a misting hose or kiddie pool for a cool place for your pets to play.
  • Limit or skip on exercise and time at the dog park during the heat of the day.
  • Always test the pavement or sand with your hand before setting out (too hot to touch is too hot for your pet), walk early in the morning or late at night when it’s cooler, carry water and take frequent breaks in shady spots. If you suspect your pet’s paws have been burned, contact your vet immediately.
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