Recently, a dog owner in Virginia left a store only to discover police and rescue personnel surrounding her car. The two dogs she had left in the car, parked in the shade with the windows cracked for about an hour, had died. In spite of her insistence that she had just “made a mistake — a huge mistake,” the dog owner was charged with two felony counts of animal cruelty.
She didn’t know her actions would cause her dogs harm, and unfortunately for many dogs, she’s not alone. According to Alice Burton, Chief of Animal Control Animal Welfare League of Arlington, it happens more often than you might think.
“We have 62 cases in our system where our Animal Control Officers responded to a call of a dog trapped in a hot car,” Burton said. “However, the number of times it is reported is higher (probably 80) because if the dog is not in distress (panting, barking) we do not respond, but will monitor the situation. Owners that leave their pet in the vehicle could be charged with Cruelty to Animals which is a Class 1 misdemeanor.”
On a warm, sunny or even an overcast day, the average normal-muzzle dog left to wait in a parked vehicle will be in respiratory distress in 10 minutes and dead in 20. A dog with a shorter muzzle (such as a Pug or Boston Terrier) will expire in even less time.
We all want to consider our dogs part of the family. We want to take them everywhere. But dogs differ from humans in ways that, if we aren’t careful, can result in tragic accidents.
Humans and some animals (horses, for example) sweat to cool themselves. Our type of sweating allows us to expend energy over long periods while maintaining safe body function. We have endurance. We can also acclimate to warming temperatures.
Although dogs have sweat glands, too, they’re not designed for cooling. Dogs cool themselves by panting, which cools the mouth and tongue as well as the blood flowing through the head, an obviously inefficient process. They also get some extra support by finding good places to rest. They find cool surfaces to press against the thinly furred areas of their bodies.
Watch your dog when it’s hot. Outdoors, he’ll select a shady spot, maybe dig up some cool earth beneath the surface, and lie in that spot. Indoors, he’ll flop onto a cool tile floor.
A parked car collects sunlight like a solar cell. The temperature in the car rises rapidly, turning the interior into an oven. Dogs can’t say “let me out,” and we often misinterpret their body language and limitations. There is no cool earth or tile floor in a car, and the dog can’t open the door to go look for a cooler spot. As animal guardians, we need to educate ourselves on how to prevent these dangerous situations. Laws like Virginia’s are designed to help speed the education process along.
What might surprise you is that it doesn’t have to be a hot summer day to be deadly to take your dog along while you run errands. When it’s just 70 degrees outdoors, the interior of your car becomes dangerous. To help remember this, think of the “Canine Car Cutoff” — 40/70.
- When it’s 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below outside, your dog DOES NOT ride along with you.
- When it’s 70 degrees Fahrenheit or above outside, your dog DOES NOT ride along with you.
- When it’s between 40 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s OKAY to take your dog on a ride-along where he might be unattended in your parked vehicle with access to water for short periods.
This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Kochi, an 8-year-old rescue kitty who lives in Aurora Hills.
Kochi is a survivor. She overcame a near-death experience last Christmas, says her owner, Martha.
Last Christmas, Kochi nearly died because her vet recommended an an over the counter drug to relieve a skin condition. It was not specified that the medicine should not contain aspirin or ibuprofen, which as it turns out, is toxic to both cats and dogs.
After an IV and blood transfusion from another good-hearted donor kitty, Kochi is fully recovered. She knows most pet owners are familiar with toxics like Poinsettia, chocolate and antifreeze, but wants to warn other pets that if anyone tries to give you aspirin or ibuprofen, spit it out quickly and go get a big drink of water!
The Arlington Pet of the Week is sponsored by Dogma Bakery, which has locations at The Village at Shirlington (2772 S. Arlington Mill Drive) and the Lee Harrison Shopping Center (2445 N. Harrison Street).
Want your pet to be considered to be the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email [email protected] Each week’s winner receives either a $25 Dogma gift card or a prize from another pet-related business.
Water Main Work Complete — Arlington County crews completed repairs on a 30″ water main near Arlington Boulevard and N. Irving Street Friday. As of Saturday, parts of the county that experienced low water pressure as a result of the repairs were back to normal service, according to the Department of Environmental Services.
New Asst. Superintendent Appointed — The Arlington School Board has appointed a new Assistant Superintendent of Instruction. Connie Skelton, a 22-year APS employee who started her career as a middle school science teacher, has been appointed to the position effective immediately. She replaces Dr. Mark Johnston, who was one of numerous senior APS staffers to depart since 2010. [Arlington Public Schools]
Vote on New Williamsburg School Expected Feb. 7 — School Board members are expected to vote on the concept for a new elementary school on the Williamsburg Middle School campus on Feb. 7. The $43 million school project has attracted scrutiny from Fairfax County due to possible traffic impacts. [Sun Gazette]
Fmr. CIA Officer Sentenced — John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer who lives in Arlington, has been sentenced to 30 months in prison. Kiriakou pleaded guilty in October to intentionally disclosing the identity of a covert CIA agent to a journalist. [U.S. Dept. of Justice]
‘Unleashed’ Open at Pentagon Row — Unleashed by Petco, a new pet store, has opened at Pentagon Row (1101 S. Joyce Street). The store offers “everyday pet essentials along with top-shelf natural, raw, organic, dehydrated and freeze-dried nutrition.” [Petco]
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is touting the benefits of adopting a rescue animal as a pet.
The Shirlington-based organization, in a press release (below), said shelter pets can help you achieve your New Year’s resolutions.
Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) encourages you to make pets a part of your New Year’s resolution plan. Resolving to adopt a shelter pet will not only improve the quality of life for that animal, but will also enhance your own. A new pet can help you achieve many of the following most popular resolutions made each year.
- Lose Weight, Get Healthy: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pets can reduce blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels and feelings of loneliness. Nearly 13.6 percent of Arlingtonians are obese, compared to the 24 percent national average. Adopting a dog as a workout partner can provide that needed motivation for daily exercise. Taking your dog for a daily 30-minute walk (or two 15-minute walks, one in the morning and one in the evening) will keep you moving and ensure that you meet the minimum recommendations for healthy physical activity. There are many dogs at the League waiting for a new human companion who wants to walk, jog, or run every day.
- Reduce Stress: There is no better stress reducer than the companionship of a devoted pet. Stroking a cat, dog, or small companion animal is a calming activity, which can lower heart rate and blood pressure. Research has indicated that when people spend time with a pet their levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, is lowered while their level of serotonin, a hormone associated with improved mood and well-being, is increased.
- Spend More Time with Friends and Family: Pets are an excellent way to bring families together, and dog walking is a great way to meet new people. Humans are social animals and need to interact with others. Pet owners have a tendency to want to share time and experiences with other pet owners. Walking your dog or visiting a dog park lets you socialize with other owners while your dog socializes with their dogs.
- Help Others: People can experience a big boost in their own mood from doing something good for others. By adopting an animal you will not only be helping, you will be rescuing a life. Most pet owners report that they actually benefit more from the relationship than their pet. Resolving to adopt from or volunteer with AWLA will not only provide you with an intrinsic reward, but also the satisfaction of enriching the lives of animals.
- Enjoy Life More: Having a pet can really make a difference in your daily quality of life. While the bond between pets and their people can be described in many ways, the bond at its root is an unconditional and uncomplicated love. Pets are not only a devoted source of comfort and loyalty, but can also provide a sense of safety and security. Caring for a pet can lead to a richer, fuller, and more meaningful life.
This year make a New Year’s resolution to enrich your life by rescuing a shelter animal. To learn more about AWLA’s diverse selection of companion animals including cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, and hamsters, download Arlington Pets App; visit the League at 2650 S. Arlington Mill Drive or www.awla.org .
Each week, we’ll pick a new “Arlington Pet of the Week.” From dogs, cats, birds, fish and everything in between, the feature will include photos and an explanation of what makes that week’s pet so special. The owner of each Pet of the Week will receive a gift card to a local pet store, in addition to the recognition of just how awesome his or her pet is.
If you think your little guy should be a contender for Arlington Pet of the Week, email one or more photos of and a 2-3 paragraph write-up about your pet to [email protected]. Please also include your name and the neighborhood you live in. All material sent to ARLnow.com may be used for publication.
The stickers were mailed out on Nov. 26 as part of an ongoing Arlington health department initiative to remind restaurants that it’s against county code for animals to be in “areas where food is prepared, cooked or served,” according to Arlington County Department of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick.
Restaurants are not required to post the stickers, but a number of eateries, like Sawatdee Thai (2250 Clarendon Blvd), pictured, have already displayed them prominently for customers entering the establishment.
Larrick says the “no pets” rule applies to sidewalk cafes, too.
“The code applies to indoor and outdoor settings,” he said. “With the growth in outdoor dining in the County over the last year or so it seemed like a timely reminder. We started work on the signs this summer but it just took a while to get them done.”
The stickers note, however, that service animals, like seeing eye dogs, are exempt from the regulations. As for why your favorite fluffy friend is a no-no at restaurants, Larrick says it comes down to health concerns.
“The presence of animals would create a risk of people getting sick due to fecal contamination,” he said.
An Unleashed by Petco store will be replacing the former Hallmark store at Pentagon Row (1101 S. Joyce Street), the shopping center confirmed on its Facebook page today.
ARLnow.com reported in June that the Hallmark store was closing on July 29 and that employees were telling customers that it would be replaced by a Petco store. At the time, a Petco representative was unable to confirm that report.
Unleashed by Petco is a “boutique” version of the pet retailer’s large-format stores. Arlington’s first Unleashed store opened on Lee Highway last May.
No word on an exact opening date, but Pentagon Row says the new Unleashed store will be holding a grand opening at some point this fall.
AWLA considers this one of its most important fundraisers of the year. Money raised will help care for all the homeless animals brought to AWLA every day, from dogs to hamsters to birds.
The three mile walk or one mile stroll will start and finish at Bluemont Park (329 N. Manchester Street). Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the walk starts at 9:30 a.m. In addition to sponsor booths, there will be demonstrations by WOOFS! Dog Training Center of Shirlington, and by the Arlington County Sheriff’s Department K-9 Unit.
Humans are encouraged to bring any canine walking partners older than four months. Dogs must be on a flat leash, not a flexible leash. Cats and other pets must stay at home. All pre-registered human walkers will receive a t-shirt, and dogs will receive a bandana.
You can register for the race on AWLA’s website. The cost for the walk is $25 in advance and $40 the day of the event. Special prizes will be awarded to participants who raise the most money.
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington recently responded to a lost dog call that, they say, is a cautionary tale against “unsupervised doggie doors.”
From the AWLA’s animal control blotter:
A woman called the shelter to report a dog loose in her neighborhood. An animal control officer responded and found a lactating black Labrador mix sitting in front of a house. Searching around, the officer found no puppies. There was no answer when the officer knocked on the door so she left a note saying that the dog was taken to the shelter. Later that afternoon, the owner called and explained that the dog escaped through their doggie door. The lab was picked and reunited with her 4 week old puppies. The League discourages the use of unsupervised doggie doors not only due to the risk of losing their pet but because the door allows wildlife into the house.
AWLA’s new “Arlington Pets” app allows users to quickly browse photos and descriptions of the pets that are currently up for adoption at the shelter. The app sorts the adoption list by dogs, cats, and “others” (birds, bunnies, etc.). Once a potential adopter has found a pet they want, the app allows them to call or email the shelter.
“AWLA launched this initiative as a way to help connect today’s technologically savvy society with animals in need,” the League said in a statement. “We are grateful to Ron Novak and his entire team at Segue Technologies, Inc., of Arlington for developing this unique application at no cost to AWLA.”
The app is free and available to iPhone and iPad users via the Apple App Store.
A controversial proposal to ban young children from Arlington’s dog parks has caught the attention of PETA.
The animal rights group has written a letter to Arlington Parks Division Chief Caroline Temmermand with a “friendly suggestion” — to ban unsterilized dogs from the county’s dog parks.
“Dogs who haven’t been ‘fixed’ are nearly three times as likely to bite as are dogs who have been sterilized,” a PETA rep told ARLnow.com. Plus, the rep said, dogs that haven’t been spayed or neutered “can contribute to the animal overpopulation crisis.”
“By allowing only ‘fixed’ dogs into Arlington’s [dog paks], the county would make parks safer and send a strong message to dog guardians that spaying or neutering their animal companions is a necessary, responsible thing to do,” PETA Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch said in a statement.
See PETA’s letter to the Parks Department, after the jump.
Unleashed (5400 Lee Highway) opened for business last week and now its planning a grand opening celebration this weekend.
The store is part of the ‘Unleashed’ boutique pet store chain run by giant pet retailer Petco. It replaced a Blockbuster video store that closed in January.
On Saturday and Sunday the store will hold a grand opening sale with 50 percent off a number of products, including certain natural dog and cat foods. Employees are also handing out $5.00 off coupons to those who stop by the store this week.
Davies Driver Sentenced in Crash — The driver in the fatal 2009 George Washington Parkway crash that left soccer star Charlie Davies severely injured was sentenced to two years in prison Friday. Maria Espinoza was drunk when the SUV she was driving hit a guardrail near Memorial Bridge and split in half, killing her best friend and leaving Davies maimed. Davies, now playing for DC United, scored two goals in the team’s home opener at RFK Stadium on Saturday. [ESPN, NY Times, Washington Post]
Arlington Woman Rescued from Potomac River — An Arlington woman was rescued by the Coast Guard after her kayak overturned in the Georgetown Channel, near Key Bridge, just before noon on Sunday. The woman, identified at 61-year-old Jenie Upchurch, was reportedly struggling to stay afloat when a Coast Guard vessel arrived at the scene and threw her a life ring. [U.S. Coast Guard]
APS Principal of the Year Named — Arlington Science Focus School principal Mary Begley has been named the Arlington Public Schools 2011 Principal of the Year. [Arlington Public Schools]
Pet Dove Eaten By Hawk — A pet dove named “Paci” was out enjoying the great outdoors in Alcova Heights last weekend when, according to the Ode Street Tribune, a hawk swooped in and put an abrupt end to her peaceful existence. [Ode Street Tribune]
With nearly 60 cats and kittens awaiting adoption, the shelter has reached capacity. Yet for every cat that’s adopted, two more come in, according to a staffer. And other shelters in the area are at or near capacity as well.
To help spur more adoptions, the AWLA is waiving the adoption fees for all cats at least three years old through the end of the year. See the cats currently up for adoption here.
“It would be great some of these lovely animals out an into forever homes before the holidays,” said AWLA Executive Director Neil Trent. “If anybody is thinking of offering a home for an animal, please think about it sooner rather than later.”
Trent noted that the shelter has experienced an influx of kittens much later in the year than usual. Traditionally, most kittens are produced in the spring, Trent said, but for some reason the peak period for kitten litters seems to have been extended into the fall and winter months.
Its high euthanization rate and its reluctance to cooperate with animal rescue groups prompted animal advocates to launch an anonymous blog last year called the AWLA Hawk.
Most recently, the AWLA Hawk published statistics showing that about 30 percent of all dogs and cats that entered the shelter in FY 2010 were euthanized.
Enter Neil Trent, who took over as the League’s executive director in September.
“Not on my watch,” he said, after being asked about the numbers.
Trent, who started his career in animal welfare more than 30 years ago as an animal cruelty law enforcement officer in the United Kingdom, says that he is making collaboration a high priority in his effort to reduce the kill rate.
“Whatever we can do to try to get more animals turned around through the shelter process and out into foster homes or new homes as quickly as we can, that’s what our challenge is going to be,” he said. To that end, he’s pushing AWLA to be “more collaborative, to reach out more and engage more members of the community.”
Among the initiatives Trent has been undertaking is collaborating with animal rescue organizations — including breed-specific rescue organizations — to try to place more cats and dogs with adoptive families.
“We are starting to network more with local rescue groups,” he said. “They do great work in finding homes.”
Trent has also been trying to bolster the League’s volunteer corps, in an effort to make shelter animals more visible at events in the community.
“If we get more volunteers, we’ll have more opportunity… to get more of our adoptable animals out to these outdoor events,” he said.
“We’re talking about living animals here,” Trent added. “They’re not just commodities sitting in a parking lot with a for sale sign on them. They’re living breathing creatures, and our role is to ensure that these animals get every possible chance that they can to make a very short spell here at the shelter and back into a good forever home as quickly as possible.”
On Wednesday, AWLA will host a workshop about feral cats with the group Alley Cat Allies. At least 50 people are expected to attend the event, during which Trent will discuss the new Trap-Neuter-Return program that he’s helping to implement.