A car window is pictured July 4, 2018. This is not the car in which a dog died of heat stroke Tuesday. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

Dog dies after suffering heat stroke in hot car

A young Great Dane died of heat stroke after being left in a car Tuesday afternoon, Gastineau Humane Society Animal Control Officer and Director of Animal Control Karen Wood.

Wood said in an interview Wednesday the dog’s owner went home from work to eat lunch and left the dog in the car, which was located in the downtown area.

“It was in full sunlight,” Wood said, “and it was basically just a tragic accident. These are totally preventable accidents.”

This is the second time in the span of a week, Wood said, where a dog has died after being in a hot car. She said a 10-year-old lab was overheating in a car in the Lemon Creek area, and the owner rushed the dog to the veterinarian. The dog died on the way, Wood said, and it’s not clear whether the death was solely due to heat conditions or if there were pre-existing conditions that contributed to it.

The Great Dane is the second confirmed heat-stroke death of a dog Wood has dealt with in Juneau, with the other situation happening a few years ago. She said the situation was almost exactly the same, where an owner went home for lunch and it slipped the person’s mind that the dog was in the car.

It doesn’t take long for the temperature in a car to present life-threatening danger to an animal. On a 70-degree day, for example, a car’s interior temperature can climb to 120 degrees in as little as 10 minutes, Wood said. At that temperature, she said, a dog can suffer heat stroke and suffer brain damage or death. Temperatures Tuesday at the Juneau International Airport reached 82 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

[Read more tips about dogs in hot temperatures here]

Wood said that if people see a dog that looks uncomfortable in a car, they should call Animal Control at 789-6997. On Tuesday, either a bystander or the owner called 911 to report the dog being in distress, Wood said.

Juneau Police Department Public Safety Officer Erann Kalwara said the dispatcher got the caller in touch with a veterinary center on one line, while calling Animal Control on another line to get responders to the scene.

“We don’t have a set protocol for calls of this nature,” Kalwara said in an email, “so the dispatcher thought on her feet to try to work on a solution to help the caller/dog.”

By the time Animal Control was able to get to the scene, it was too late and the dog was dead, Wood said. She said Animal Control was there about 20 minutes after the call came in, but she didn’t know how long the dog had been in the car prior to the call. Doing CPR on a dog in that kind of situation, Wood said, won’t help because heat stroke primarily affects the brain.

Wood said there are 28 states that specifically forbid people from leaving animals in hot cars, and 11 states have policies in place allowing people to break car windows in life-threatening situations. Alaska does not have either of those laws in place, she said.

Temperatures again climbed above 80 degrees Tuesday and are expected to reach the 70s Thursday, according to the NWS forecast. On days like that, Wood said, animals should not be in an idle car for any length of time.

“It’s just best to leave animal at home,” Wood said.


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


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