To the Editor:
This letter was sent to Erik G. Blake, chief of the Oak Bluffs Police Department.
I am writing after visiting Martha's Vineyard over the last few days. Today, I enjoyed Oak Bluffs' beautiful town center. However, as I walked with friends, we found two dogs locked in a vehicle on Main Street. The outdoor temperature was a very warm 75 degrees, which felt even hotter in the brilliant afternoon sun. The car was fully exposed to the blistering sun and a closed glass sunroof provided no shield whatsoever from the heat beating down on the car. The vehicle's windows were open only a few inches, and there was no water available to these dogs, both of which were barking and panting heavily. One of the dogs was a sheltie with very long hair.
One of my friends attempted to notify two different shopkeepers, who did not understand her alarm. She then phoned the Oak Bluffs Police Department and provided the license plate number and the location of the vehicle. In total, I waited 25 minutes before the owner of the car returned. When I expressed my concern for the dogs, she was hostile. How long these dogs were locked inside I do not know.
As a result of this experience, I would like to share with you a valuable resource for information that exists for the sole purpose of educating the public on the shocking extent, and seriousness, of this very issue. United Animal Nations launched the "My Dog is Cool" campaign to provide valuable information that can be used to inform compassionate and humane social policies toward protecting the safety and welfare of canine members of our communities and families. Expert information is available at www.mydogiscool.com for public officials, members of the media, business owners, and the general public. Many of these public education materials are available for free.
Research conducted at Stanford University, as well as other institutions, shows that hot cars are death traps for dogs. Every year, dogs suffer and/or die after being locked inside cars, for even for "just a few minutes." These tragic deaths are entirely preventable. Please consider:
• When it is 72 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car can reach 116 degrees within an hour, even with windows cracked. When it is 85 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car can climb to 102 degrees in 10 minutes, and 120 degrees in 30 minutes.
• A dog's normal body temperature ranges from 101 to 102.5 degrees. Dogs can withstand a body temperature of 107 to 108 degrees for only a short time before they experience brain and nerve damage, heart problems — and even death. Dogs do not sweat like humans, in order to cool down. They regulate their body temperatures by panting and through the pads of their feet. Hot air, and hot car seats, can quickly restrict a dog's ability to escape a hot and horrifying death trap.
For your convenience, I am enclosing a sample of information I found at www.mydogiscool.com. Town offices in my own hometown have recently begun providing this information to all licensed dog owners in Brattleboro, Vermont. They also have the free posters available from www.mydogiscool.com hanging in our town hall offices.
Given the large number of parking spaces provided for the thousands of sun lovers that flock to beach communities like Oak Bluffs, it is my hope that Martha's Vineyard will be even more renowned for its beauty, due to the compassionate awareness and practices on this critically important issue.
Thank you for hearing my concerns. I hope you find this website useful and will encourage all your officers to visit it.
Barry L. Adams, RN, Ph.D.