By Samantha Smith
Summer is officially here and with it comes dangers from heat exposure for people and pets.
Buda Animal Control officer Jennifer Hall and public information officer David Marino sent Buda residents a notice reminding them of the dangers of leaving animals unattended in hot vehicles.
According to an emailed response from Hall, it doesn’t take long for temperatures to soar past 100 degrees Fahrenheit in a car sitting in the sun.
“If it’s 80 degrees Fahrenheit outside the vehicle, within 10 minutes the inside temperature is up to 99 degrees,” Hall said.
Hall added that after 30 minutes, temperatures inside a vehicle can reach 114 degrees Fahrenheit, even with the windows rolled down.
According to Hall, Buda has a city ordinance prohibiting residents from leaving pets in vehicles.
Per city ordinance, a person may not transport an animal in an enclosure that is unsafe or leave them in a parked vehicle where the animal’s health or life is endangered by high or low temperatures or inadequate ventilation.
Pet owners who leave their animals in vehicles with the engine running and the air conditioning on are still breaking the law.
Buda Transportation Code 545.404 states people cannot leave a vehicle “unattended and running with the key in the ignition.”
“This ordinance gives a Peace Officer or Animal Control Officer the right to enter the vehicle by any means and seek care for the animal if required,” Hall said.
But the ordinance only protects Animal Control Officers or Peace Officers to lawfully enter a vehicle to rescue an animal.
“If a citizen decided to enter a vehicle on their own and not make contact with the animal owner, or contact the proper authority (i.e. the police/animal control) they could be charged with (breaking into a motor vehicle) and theft,” Hall said in her email.
The best situation would be for residents to leave pets at home when running errands or making frequent stops when in the car.
While there are instances where animals have to be transported in a vehicle during extreme weather, new technology intended to protect small children from being forgotten in hot vehicles can also be used to protect pets during transport.
According to a report from NBC’s TODAY show, GM automotive is adding a new feature to its 2017 Acadia SUV – a rear seat reminder designed to signal a driver on the steering column consol to check the back seat.
Other technology is readily available at retail stores like Wal-Mart and online outlets like EBay that works like an alarm and can be attached to a dogs’ collar or pet carrier.
Other tips for pet owners traveling with their pets this summer include keeping a phone or a purse in the back seat, requiring the driver to turn around to retrieve it, or installing a mirror on the back windshield so the rear of the vehicle can be observed easily.
Hall still encourages residents to act if they witness an animal in a hot vehicle.
“If a citizens sees an animal in a hot vehicle they should contact Hays County Dispatch number, (512) 393-7896, to have an officer respond,” said Hall.