Hot pets are not cool: BC SPCA reminds public not to leave animals in hot cars

Cars can become death traps in 10 minutes

“People don’t realize just how quickly their cars can become death traps for their pets – it can take as little as 10 minutes for the vehicle to reach temperatures where the animal can suffer irreparable brain damage or death,” says Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the BC SPCA.

“We know that if people are taking their pets with them, it’s because they love them and want to spend time with them, but we really do encourage pet guardians to please, leave their pets at home when they’re going out in the car.”

What to do if you see a dog in distress in a parked vehicle:

  • Note the license plate and vehicle information and ask managers of nearby businesses to page the owner to return to their vehicle immediately;
  • Call to report the hot dog in car situation if no owner is found or when animal is suffering symptoms of heatstroke. During the daytime, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, call the BC SPCA Provincial Call Centre at 1-855-622-7722 and staff will troubleshoot and help connect you with your local animal control agency or police. In an emergency, call 911 for RCMP attendance. Note: It is illegal for members of the public to break a window to access the vehicle themselves; only RCMP and Special Provincial Constables of the BC SPCA can lawfully enter a vehicle. SPCA branch staff and volunteers cannot enter vehicles.
  • Keep emergency supplies – bottled water, a small bowl, a towel that can be soaked in water- in your car so that you help hydrate an animal (if a window has been left open) while you wait for emergency response; a battery-powered fan from a dollar store also can be handy to circulate air.
  • Be an advocate! Help spread the word that pets and hot vehicles are a fatal mix. Put up a copy of our “Hot Pets? Not Cool!” infographic in stores, malls and other areas in your community where pets are left unattended in vehicles.

Dogs can’t release heat by sweating

In just minutes, the temperature in a parked car can climb to well over 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). Dogs have no sweat glands, so they can only cool themselves by panting and by releasing heat through their paws, which they cannot do in a vehicle that has become an oven, she notes. Dogs can withstand high temperatures for only a very short time – in some cases just minutes – before suffering irreparable brain damage or death.

Pet guardians should be alert to heatstroke symptoms, which include: exaggerated panting (or the sudden stopping of panting), rapid or erratic pulse, salivation, anxious or staring expression, weakness and muscle tremors, lack of coordination, convulsions or vomiting, and collapse.

If your dog shows symptoms of heatstroke, you should do the following:

  • Immediately move the animal to a cool, shady place
  • Wet the dog with cool water
  • Fan vigorously to promote evaporation. This will cool the blood, which reduces the animal’s core temperature.
  • Do not apply ice. This constricts blood flow, which will inhibit cooling.
  • Allow the dog to drink some cool water (or to lick ice cream if no water is available)
  • Take the dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible for further treatment.

“Your dog will be much happier – and safer – at home, with shade and plenty of fresh cool water,” Chortyk says. “It is such a preventable tragedy.”

If people see a dog in a hot car who they think is in distress, they should call municipal animal control authorities or local law enforcement immediately.

BC SPCA escalates rescue efforts for animals affected by wildfires

The BC SPCA is escalating rescue efforts to help animals impacted by B.C.’s raging wildfires.

“Our staff and volunteers have been very active in supporting emergency services in affected areas, but as the wildfires spread we are escalating our involvement,” said Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the BC SPCA.

“The animal evacuation centre being operated by the Prince George Humane Society with the support of the SPCA is now full so the BC SPCA has set up a second Evacuation Dog Care Site in the Duchess Park Warehouse at 747 Winnipeg Street in Prince George,” says Chortyk. “There are currently 35 dogs in care but the facility has the capacity to handle more incoming dogs.” Dog owners will be referred to the SPCA-run centre by local Emergency Social Services personnel.

The BC SPCA has also deployed a number of special constables from its cruelty investigations department to a base camp in Clearwater, where they will be providing support in rescuing animals trapped behind fire evacuation lines.

“In addition we have transferred more than 130 homeless animals in our care from SPCA shelters in the Cariboo region to our facilities in the Interior, the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island to free up space for temporary emergency sheltering for animals impacted by the fires,” says Chortyk.

She said the BC SPCA has also contacted large pet supply companies about shipping urgently needed pet food and supplies to evacuation centres.

In areas where evacuated families are seeking temporary shelter the BC SPCA is also offering free spaces for kids in their week-long summer camps (as capacity allows).

“The situation and the needs are changing on a daily basis, but the BC SPCA is in regular contact with provincial and local ESS officials and our staff and volunteers are ready and willing to help however we can,” said Chortyk.

The BC SPCA has set up a special online emergency donation site (spca.bc.ca/emergencyalert) to help animals affected by the wildfires.

Update:

The BC SPCA Provincial Call Centre (1-855-622-7722) is now also fielding calls from pet owners in the Cariboo Regional District who require officers to attend, feed/water animals and remove animals if given the authority to do so by the owners. Currently the call centre is managing calls from the 100, 103, 108, 150 Mile areas as well as Lac La Hache and Williams Lake.

Source: BC SPCA

Keep your canine cool in the summer heat with tips from the SPCA

If it’s hot, your pet may be in trouble! During warm weather pet guardians must take precautions against the danger of heat exhaustion and heatstroke for their pets. The temperature in a parked car, even in the shade with the windows partly open, can rapidly reach a level that will seriously harm or even kill your pet. Leaving you pet in a car with the air conditioning on is also taking a risk as many pets have died as the result of a faulty air-conditioning system.

If you see a dog in a car on a warm or humid day who you believe may be in trouble, ask nearby stores to page customers. If the dog is in distress call municipal animal control authorities right away, or the local police department, RCMP immediately.

Dogs (and cats) cool themselves by panting and by releasing heat through their paws. On summer days the air and upholstery in your vehicle can heat up to high temperatures that make it impossible for pets to cool themselves. Your dog will be more comfortable if left at home.

Note that dogs also risk overheating if exercised outside during the day in hot weather. Choose the early morning and evening when it’s cooler, to excercise your dog and always remember to bring extra water for your dog and take lots of breaks.

Symptoms of heatstroke

  • Exaggerated panting (or the sudden stopping of panting);
  • rapid or erratic pulse;
  • salivation;
  • anxious or staring expression;
  • weakness and muscle tremors;
  • lack of coordination;
  • tongue and lips red (which may eventually turn bluish in colour);
  • convulsions or vomiting;
  • collapse, coma and death.

 

Emergency treatment for dogs

If your dog shows symptoms of heatstroke follow these instructions:

  • Immediately move the animal to a cool, shady place.
  • Wet the dog with cool water.
  • Fan vigorously to promote evaporation. This process will cool the blood, which reduces the dog’s core temperature.
  • Do not apply ice. This constricts blood flow which will inhibit cooling.
  • Allow the dog to drink some cool water.
  • Take the dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible for further treatment.

Veterinarians may apply supportive measures such as intravenous fluids to rehydrate the animal and oxygen to prevent brain damage.

Dogs in hot cars resources

The following documents are available to help you raise awareness and educate others on this all too common danger.

For injured paws and claws, insurance may come in handy for some pets

By Aleksandra Sagan

THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO _ Monica Finlay’s childhood yellow Labrador, Amy, had a few surprise accidents that cost her parents a lot of money.

“She blew out her ACL and that was really expensive,” Finlay says.

“Then, right at the end of her life, she blew out her other ACL.”

That experience is partly why she and her husband have been spending $45 a month for pet insurance since they got their German shepherd mix, Ozzie, about six years ago.

Pet insurance plans cover some veterinary costs, but pet owners are divided on whether they’re worth it.

Medical costs over an animal’s lifetime can be steep.

Cats cost their owners at least $100 a year, while dogs cost at least $200, according to the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Those numbers only cover routine visits and don’t take into account emergencies, which can add up to thousands of dollars.

Monthly fees vary depending on factors such as the animal’s breed, age and location, as well as what the plan covers. Owners can choose from accident, illness and wellness coverage, which covers the routine visits most plans don’t.

Plans often have a combination of a maximum payout amount each year, a deductible (an amount the owner must pay before the insurer pitches in) and a co-pay (a percentage of the bill the owner is responsible for). Many plans won’t cover future costs for pre-existing conditions.

Fees vary. But the average yearly cost of insuring an adult cat for accident and illness coverage with Pets Plus Us, for instance, is $370, while for a dog the cost nearly doubles to $734.

It’s estimated only about one to three per cent of all domestic cats and dogs in the country have some type of insurance, like Finlay’s dog Ozzie.

Finlay says insurance has covered Ozzie’s roughly $2,500 of annual medical costs since they discovered he has allergies to about 22 things, including beef, chicken and wool.

“It would have been really cost prohibitive to keep him if we didn’t have pet insurance,” she says, adding the insurer pays 90 per cent of those costs save for a one-time $500 deductible.

But not all pets need such expensive, ongoing care and the monthly fees could add up to more than what the insurer needs to pay.

Michelle Van Dyk-Houghton chose not to insure her dog Brooke or her cat Ginger after weighing the monthly cost of insurance versus the potential savings.

Instead, she and her husband set aside $100 to $200 a month for animal care and draw on those funds when needed.

“If we don’t need it, then it’s money that we still have,” she says. “I don’t feel like I’m just giving it to an insurance company to kind of be gone forever.”

Not all pet owners are able to take out insurance though.

When Marli Vlok’s first guinea pig fell ill with what she believes was fibrous osteodystrophy, a metabolic bone disease, she paid more than $900 for Ember’s teeth to be trimmed three times and about $700 for a visit to a specialist.

She looked into pet insurance for her other guinea pigs, but couldn’t find a plan that would cover them.

Vlok routinely shells out between $40 and $70 for vet visits and has paid about $300 for two sets of X-rays for Onyx.

She says she keeps about $500 on hand for vet purposes at all times, but would prefer to pay for insurance.

“They’re one of those pets that you have a very good chance that they’ll be absolutely healthy,” she says.

“But when things go wrong, it’s expensive wrong.”

Baby orca! Last killer whale born at SeaWorld

By Jennifer Kay

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

MIAMI _ The last orca has been born in captivity at a SeaWorld park in San Antonio, Texas, just over a year after the theme park decided to stop breeding orcas following animal rights protests and declining ticket sales.

The Orlando-based company said the orca _ the last in a generation of whales bred in confinement _ was born Wednesday afternoon. SeaWorld did not immediately name the calf because the park’s veterinarians had not yet determined whether it was male or female.

The mother, 25-year-old Takara, was already pregnant when SeaWorld announced in March 2016 that it had stopped breeding its orcas. The gestation period for orcas is about 18 months.

Preparing late last month for the moment, SeaWorld’s chief zoological officer, Chris Dold, told The Associated Press he expected the birth to be bittersweet, because it would be the last such event at any of the parks. But just hours after the calf was born about 3:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Dold said, SeaWorld staff only felt like celebrating. SeaWorld said mother and calf both appear healthy.

“These are extraordinary moments,” he said by phone while travelling to the U.S. from Abu Dhabi, where SeaWorld is developing its first new park without orcas. “It’s a tempered celebration only because we’re focused on the health of these guys.”

SeaWorld decided to stop breeding orcas, and phase out its world-famous killer whale performances by 2019, after public opinion turned against keeping orcas, dolphins and other animals in captivity for entertainment. The backlash intensified after the 2013 release of “Blackfish,” a documentary critical of SeaWorld’s orca care. It focused on the orca Tilikum, which killed trainer Dawn Brancheau in Orlando in 2010, dragging her into the pool before shocked visitors after a “Dine with Shamu” show.

Tilikum, which sired 14 calves over nearly 25 years in Orlando, died of bacterial pneumonia in January.

The newborn calf was sired by Kyuquot (pronounced ky YOO kit) at the San Antonio park by natural means. It brings SeaWorld’s orca population in the U.S. to 23. All the orcas are expected to remain on display and available for researchers for years to come in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio.

SeaWorld has said it plans to introduce new “natural orca encounters” in place of theatrical shows. This summer, the San Diego park will unveil a new, educational attraction in a revamped pool, and new orca attractions eventually will follow in San Antonio and Orlando.

The calf will be visible to visitors either in the orca stadium pool at the San Antonio park or in two adjacent pools. Observations about the calf and Takara by SeaWorld trainers will be provided from the moment of birth to researchers trying to fill gaps in their data about wild killer whales.

Dold said veterinarians at the San Antonio park told him the calf was born normally tail first after about an hour and a half of smooth labour. Both orcas were swimming calmly, including taking breaths at the water’s surface, and trainers would be watching for the calf to begin nursing.

“Mom generally will rest but she can’t rest too much …. mom’s not holding onto the calf, but it’s riding in her slipstream, and that’s how it gets around,” Dold said. “Our expectation is that all of this will go smoothly, but we take none of that for granted.”

Birth control and “social management” will prevent future orca pregnancies, said spokeswoman Suzanne Pelisson Beasley. SeaWorld has not collected a wild orca in nearly 40 years, and most of its orcas were born in captivity.

Researchers have said they worry that SeaWorld’s decision to stop breeding orcas will slowly reduce their ability to study orca health, growth and behaviour, limiting them in coming years to collecting data from a small pod of aging whales.

Heather Hill, a St. Mary’s University comparative psychologist who plans to monitor the sleeping habits of Takara and the calf over the coming year, said it was frustrating to see research opportunities at SeaWorld undermined by public opinion amid federal cuts to science funding.

“This will be one of the first times we’ll be able to see not just a mother with a newborn calf but also a newborn calf with siblings,” Hill said.

This is Takara’s fifth calf. Two of her other offspring remain at the San Antonio park, while one lives at SeaWorld Orlando and another has been loaned to a park in Tenerife, Spain. SeaWorld has no current plans to separate Takara and the newborn in the future, or to move any of its other orcas, Dold said.

In March, Dold said SeaWorld remains committed to orca research and conservation, calling the last orca birth in captivity “a solemn reminder of how things can change and how things can be lost.”

Origins of the Easter Bunny


He lurks in the shadows . . . a fur covered creature . . . with long, sharp teeth, littering the landscape with painted eggs . . .

Like Christmas, Easter is a hybrid of pagan and Christian beliefs. In Christianity, Easter Sunday celebrates the resurrection of Christ and his ascension into heaven. For Pagans, Easter is a springtime ritual celebrating rebirth and new life, with rabbits (because of their prolific breeding habits) and eggs representing symbols of fertility. In fact, the word ‘Easter’ is derived from ‘Eostre’ the pagan goddess of fertility.

So we see how the rabbit and the eggs came together. But why are the eggs coloured? Precise origins are unknown, but many Eastern Orthodox Christians dye their Easter eggs red to symbolize the blood of Christ, while some pagans will dye their eggs green in honour of the emerging springtime foliage.

The concept of an egg-laying bunny came to North America in the 18th century when German immigrants to the Pennsylvania Dutch area told their children about ‘Osterhas’, or sometimes spelled ‘Oschter Haws’. Oschter means ‘Easter’ in German and ‘Hase’ means ‘hare’, not rabbit, so this Easter ‘Hare’ would bring good children colored eggs and place them in ‘nests’ the children had built in their caps or bonnets.

Happy Easter!

 

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