Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Temperatures inside cars reach dangerous levels on hot days, putting dogs, and humans, at risk

Columbia County Animal Control rescued two dogs from hot cars in separate incidents over the past few weeks.

Officer Roger Kadell, who runs the county's animal control operations, said one dog was returned to its owner, while the other will remain with the county.

"The law has no set temperature on dogs being left in cars. I personally get concerned when days reach over 80," Kadell wrote in an email.

If a dog is showing signs of distress, such as heavy panting or appearing lethargic, it is not safe.

Kadell said he weighs a number of factors if the dog does not appear to be in distress, including if the vehicle is in direct sun or shade; if windows are open; if there is a breeze; the size and age of the dog; how long it appears to have been in the car; and if the owner can be located.

"Removal of the dog from the situation does not always trigger criminal enforcement action. The primary goal is the safety of the animal. Once that is provided for, we evaluate the whole situation and work to mitigate and educate the owner of the animal," Kadell explained.

Whether or not a dog is returned to the owner depends on if the owner seems to understand the gravity of the mistake and shows a willingness to make changes to ensure the pet's safety.

Oregon law protects individuals from legal consequences if they act to remove an animal or child from a vehicle when there is reasonable cause to believe the child or animal is in immediate danger.

People who see a pet stuck in a hot car should know that the animal may not react positively to a stranger approaching them, and the returning owner may be upset by someone breaking into their car.

"When possible we ask that citizen to call dispatch to report the situation and allow for police or animal control response," Kadell said. That number is 503-397-1521.

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