PAWS would like to appeal to the dog owners who take their dogs out in the car or in the bed of a pickup truck during the summer months to please leave your dogs at home.
Of course they want to go with you, not knowing it could be a death wish, and though disappointed, they will be safer at home. If you see a dog left in an unattended hot car, please call the sheriff’s office dispatch at (276) 694-3161.
Signs of heat exhaustion in dogs include excessive panting and salivating, red tongue and gums, swollen/enlarged tongue, glazed eyes, rapid heart beat and distress.
The sheriff’s office policy on dogs left unattended in non-running cars on hot days is:
1) When the Patrick County Sheriff’s Office is notified that a dog is enclosed in a non-running parked car:
A deputy, animal control officer and Patrick County Public Animal Shelter personnel all have thermal laser guns to check the temperature inside a parked car. If the dog is found to be in distress due to heat exhaustion, the officer will attempt to determine the amount of time the dog has been in the car by questioning witnesses and the driver about what time they left the car. The officer will then obtain sufficient information from the vehicle operator to obtain a warrant at a later time.
The officer immediately attempts to contact a Virginia licensed veterinarian through dispatch to obtain the veterinarian’s opinion if the temperature of the car, length of time exposed, and breed of the dog would be considered ill-treatment to the dog per code section 3.2-6570, section A.
If the veterinarian is unable to give an opinion on the facts alone, the officer will ask the owner to transport the animal to said veterinarian immediately for an evaluation. (Heat exhaustion can cause brain damage or death if not treated immediately).
If the veterinarian is not immediately available, the officer will gather the facts and evidence for presentation to the veterinarian. If the veterinarian states that the temperature and time was sufficient to be considered ill-treatment, and the vet is willing to be subpoenaed to court, the officer will then obtain a warrant and arrest the owner.
2) After the car is opened, if the dog appears to be sick from heat exposure. The officer may request the owner to immediately transport the dog to a Veterinarian for evaluation and treatment. If the owner is not compliant the officer may seize the dog pursuant to law 3.2-6569 and transport the dog to the veterinarian’s office for evaluation and treatment.
3) On a hot day, when there is not proper ventilation, the car is parked and not running with a dog inside, the officer may unlock the car under pretext of exigent circumstances without obtaining a warrant.