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Jun 27

No Hot Dogs This Summer!

Posted on June 27, 2019 at 1:08 PM by Michael Churchill

Don’t worry! That doesn’t mean there are no more Oscar Meyer weiners or Johnsonville brats. Hopefully, it does mean that pet owners won’t leave their dogs in the car this summer.

Community Service Officer Dawn Neely of the Rifle Police Department wants everyone to be aware of the dangers of leaving your pet in your vehicle during this warm weather. Each year for the past three years, the Rifle Police Department has responded to about 45 calls for dogs in hot cars. Officer Neely would like to see that number drop to zero. 

According to the Humane Society of the United States, every summer pets suffer from heatstroke and die when left in parked cars. Many of these deaths occur when owners simply intend to “run a quick errand” and will “only be gone for a minute”. However, car interiors heat up surprisingly fast. On an 80 degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can reach nearly 100 degrees in just 10 minutes.

As the interior of the car heats up, dogs can’t beat the rising temperatures. Unlike humans, dogs don’t sweat. Their bodies rely on panting to lower their body temperature. Dogs with longer snouts are more efficient at dispelling heat. “Smush face” breeds such as pugs and bulldogs have a much more difficult time due to shorter nasal passages. 

Signs that a dog is overheating include heavy panting, glazed or rolled back eyes, stupor, vomiting or deep red or purple tongue or gums. Heatstroke affects every organ of the body. If you suspect an animal is suffering from heatstroke, move them to a cooler area and take steps to gradually lower their temperature. Sprinkle them with cool water or place cool, wet towels on their necks. If the animal is alert, offer water, but don’t force them to drink. Then, get the animal checked out by a veterinarian.

Officer Neely has a checklist for what citizens should do if they come across a dog alone in a hot car.

  1. Take down the car’s license plate number and note the color, model and make.
  2. Call local animal control or police. In Rifle, call dispatch at 970-625-8095. If it is an emergency situation, call 911.
  3. Have the owner paged in the nearest building.
  4. Have someone keep an eye on the dog.
  5. Don’t leave the scene until the situation is resolved.

Officer Neely says pet owners need to be asking themselves one simple question every time they want to take the dog for a ride in the car: Is it too warm to take my dog along today? If there is any doubt, leave the pet at home. Don’t take a chance with your furry friend. 

She has put together extensive information to educate pet owners. Brochures can be found in many locations in the City and information is posted on the Rifle Police Department Facebook page. Citizens may also contact her by calling dispatch at 970-625-8095. She is happy to discuss any aspect of pet health and safety. Education is the primary goal.


Rifle Rapport is a periodic article featuring the people and projects of the City of Rifle. If you have suggestions for future articles, please contact City of Rifle Public Information Officer Kathy Pototsky at 970-665-6420 or


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