Burlington Animal Services issues warning after 3 dogs die from heatstroke in two weeks

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BURLINGTON, N.C. — Grieving the death of a pet is not an easy task, especially if the pet’s death could have been prevented. After seeing three dead dogs in 10 days, Burlington Animal Services is issuing a warning to pet owners. 

The most recent case happened Tuesday. Animal control tells FOX8 a person went shopping for a TV at Walmart. They left their dog in the car. When they came outside 10 minutes later, the dog was dead.  

“It only takes minutes. Do not fool yourself. Don’t think, ‘I’m going to run in here and get a gallon of milk they’ll be fine.’ Even with the windows cracked,” said Laura Michel, Burlington Animal Services program coordinator. 

Michel’s team at BAS received three calls about dogs that were left either in hot cars or out too long in the heat.  In all three cases, they weren’t able to save the dogs. It’s something Michel warns pet owners about every year. 

“There is no safe amount of time. Your car becomes an absolute oven. Ask yourself, ‘Would I put on a coat and sit here in this car for 10 minutes in this heat?’ Probably not,” Michel said. 

But it’s not just leaving a dog in a car that can mean life or death. 

A woman who only wished to be identified as Angela lost her 8-year-old dog Summo last Wednesday.

“He was the most gentle dog,” Angela said. 

Summo had a heatstroke while she was putting up a new tarp over his pen to give him more shade. 

“I noticed that he was trying to get his breath. He was panting real hard. Trying to get his breath,” Angela said. 

Her grandson sprayed Summo with a hose but Angela said it didn’t do much. She quickly bought a bag of ice and laid it over her dog. Unfortunately, it was too late. Summo overheated after being in direct sunlight and out in the heat for 20 minutes. His age may have also played a factor. 

“The heat was too much for him,” Angela said. 

She knows about dogs in hot cars but had no idea that the North Carolina heat could be deadly to dogs while they’re outside.  

“Losing him was like losing a child and I know because I’ve lost one,” Angela said. 

She isn’t planning to get another dog. She misses Summo and could never replace him. 

“He died very fast,” Angela said. 

She doesn’t want anyone to go through her experience and neither does Michel. 

“This is very serious and we don’t want to see this happen anymore,” Michel said. 

It is a crime in North Carolina to leave a dog in a hot car. Depending on the severity of the crime, people can get fined, go to court or spend time in jail for animal cruelty. 

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