The Animal Doctor

Dogs Dying in Hot Cars

DEAR DR. FOX: With the beginning of summer, the risk of dogs dying in hot cars rises along with the temperatures. Social media posts have circulated across the country, urging people to break a window if they see a dog trapped inside a hot car, but it is not always legal to do so.

Only eight states -- California, Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio and Tennessee -- have “Good Samaritan” laws that allow any person to break a car window to save a pet. In 19 states, only a law enforcement officer is allowed to save an animal from a hot car; two states (Alabama and Arizona) have “hot car” bills pending. The No. 1 rule is to call 911.

There is a full list of laws that apply to animals trapped in cars on our website, aldf.org. -- N.L., Animal Legal Defense Fund

DEAR N.L.: Thank you for this important, life-saving notice, which might also save a few human infants in the process from multi-tasking and distracted parents and guardians.

DEAR DR.FOX: Help me out here. I am down to one cat, and I want to adopt another, but there are complications: First, we are planning to move in two months to one of those “old-folks' homes,” so I was putting off an adoption until we moved. There's no sense in moving the cat twice. Second, I wanted to adopt an older cat, so it wouldn’t outlive me. Our existing cat is 9 years old, and a big bruiser at 18 pounds. He will have to come to grips with being an indoor cat once we move.

I stopped by the local humane society and they had only one old cat, Audrey Hepburn. Apparently, her person died, and there she was, stuck in a cage at the pound. She is 13, and she was not a happy camper. She just stared at me. Living in a cage is not her idea of a life. She's a small, declawed (ugh) cat.

So what to do? I hate the thought of her living there in that cage, but I don’t think she would be able to hold her own against my cat. He has had other cats around during his stay here, but they have all died, so now he is alone. I’m not sure what he would do if a) I introduced a new cat, and b) they were forced to co-exist indoors.

I feel so sorry for this old gal. Help! -- E.J., Westminster, Maryland

DEAR E.J.: I understand your dilemma, and I appreciate your concern.

First, you must be very clear that cats are allowed in the facility where you will be moving, and ideally get it in writing. If there is a change in administration or any issue with any other resident with animals, they may prohibit residents keeping animals.

Sometimes cats and dogs get on with each other quickly when put together in an unfamiliar place at the same time, because neither has a strong territorial response. I would board your cat for the day or two until you are moved in to your new accommodations and set up the furniture in one room the way he is used to. Give him 24 hours to settle down, then bring home the cat from the shelter and keep her in a separate room or in a large cage with her own litter box, food, water and bed. Plug in a Feliway pheromone dispenser in both rooms, and follow the steps of introducing a new cat, as posted on my website DrFoxVet.net.

Alternatively, especially if the shelter is crowded and under such conditions where there is no quarantine and Audrey Hepburn is more likely to pick up a respiratory infection, follow your instincts and pick her up as soon as possible after she is pronounced well and free of parasites and any signs of respiratory infection by an animal doctor. Then follow the same steps of introduction in my article on this delicate process.

Keep me posted, and good luck!

(Send all mail to animaldocfox@gmail.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.

Visit Dr. Fox's website at DrFoxVet.net.)

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