Sunday, September 09, 2007

Children and Dogs

As I pointed out here earlier; children and dogs in North America share something in common; being abandoned in hot cars to die of hypothermia.

Two recent cases involving a child and a police dog made news the same day.

Ohio Mother Leaves Child in Car for 8 Hours

Yesterday we brought you the tragic story of a 2-year-old girl who died after her mother left her in a locked car for eight hours as the temperature approached 100 degrees outside -- and came close to 150 degrees inside.

The mother, Brenda Nesselroad-Slaby, had changed her daily routine that morning before going to work as an assistant principal at a middle school in Ohio. Instead of dropping off her daughter with the babysitter, she went to buy donuts for her fellow teachers, then went to work -- forgetting that her daughter was still asleep in the back seat.

PHOENIX, Arizona (AP) -- A suburban police officer is accused of leaving a police dog in a patrol car for more than 12 hours on a 109-degree day, killing the animal The sheriff's investigation showed Bandit was in Lovejoy's patrol car from about 9 a.m. to shortly after 10 p.m. August 11. During that time, the investigation found, the officer ran errands, napped and ate out with his wife. Lovejoy later found the dog dead in the car.

And surprisingly there are as many dog fatalities as those of children.


Ga. police dog also dies after being left in patrol car

Amherst Police arrested a Niagara Falls man Friday afternoon at the Boulevard Mall, after the man's dog was discovered suffering from the heat in a vehicle.Humane Investigator William Sullivan said they used a special thermometer to check the temperature in the vehicle. "It was 105 degrees," he said.

A woman was charged with animal cruelty Tuesday after her dog died after being left in a closed car, allowing the pet's temperature to reach 108.3 degrees,

Cary police have charged a woman with leaving a dog inside a 122-degree car

Man Arrested after Dog Left in Hot Car Dies - Associated Content

Absecon woman charged after dog left in car dies - Topix

Dog Left In Sweltering Car As Owner Goes To Beach -

Man charged with locking a dog in hot car, leaving it to die

Man Arrested After Dog Dies In Boiling Car


New City man charged with DWI; child in car

Mother pleads guilty to leaving toddler in car

Florida Toddler Dies After Being Left in Hot Car Outside City Hall

Father Arrested After Leaving Toddler in Car at Brothel Parking Lot

Police: Man Leaves Child In Car, Shops For Porn


Sometimes the child or dog is rescued.

Torrance police rescue baby trapped in car

Statistics for children and dogs left in cars shows a wide discrepancy. While the statistics for children left in cars is for the U.S. the stats for dogs are from the Ontario Humane Society. Despite the disparities in numbers they share the same underlying causes.

In 2007 there have been at least twenty-six deaths of small children after being left inside a hot vehicle. Last year there were at least twenty-nine such fatalities in the United States due to hyperthermia after they were left in hot cars, trucks, vans and SUV's. This sadly followed forty-two child deaths in 2005. Since 1998 there have been at least a total of 323 of these needless tragedies. This study shows that these incidents can occur on days with relatively mild (i.e., ~ 70 degrees F) temperatures and can occur very rapidly.


  • Total number of U.S. hyperthermia deaths of children left in cars, 2007: 26
  • Total number of U.S. hyperthermia deaths of children left in cars, 2006: 29
  • Total number of U.S. hyperthermia deaths of children left in cars, 1998-2007: 347
  • Average number of U.S. child hyperthermia fatalities per year since 1998: 36

In the summer of 2006, the OHS EAPS responded
to 93 calls about dogs left in cars in extreme heat
conditions. We're pleased to see the numbers of these
calls decreasing each summer. Thanks to our educational
efforts and public awareness campaigns, more
people are becoming conscious of the dangers of
leaving animals in hot cars.

The reason for child car deaths and those of animals is simple lack of laws and severe enough penalties.

An Associated Press analysis of more than 310 fatal incidents in the past 10 years found that prosecutions and penalties vary widely, depending in many cases on where the death occurred and who left the child to die - parent or caregiver, mother or father: -Mothers are treated much more harshly than fathers. While mothers and fathers are charged and convicted at about the same rates, moms are 26 percent more likely to do time. And their median sentence is two years longer than the terms received by dads. -Day care workers and other paid baby sitters are more likely than parents to be charged and convicted. But they are jailed less frequently than parents, and for less than half the time. -Charges are filed in half of all cases - even when a child was left unintentionally.

It's wrong that an Ohio mother has escaped prosecution for the death of her 2-year-old daughter, who the mother forgot and left inside a sweltering SUV while she went to work.

The decision not to prosecute Brenda Nesselroad-Slaby of suburban Cincinnati for the death of her daughter Cecilia came yesterday from Clermont County Prosecutor Don White. He said leaving Cecilia in the car was ''a substantial lapse of due care'' but did not meet the legal test for reckless conduct requiring prosecution.

We don't buy it. A toddler died because the primary caregiver forgot her primary duty. The loss of a child's life can not be written off as an unfortunate mistake, no matter how unintentional, or how much the parent is grieving personally.

The legal obligation of a parent to protect a child has few rivals, and the law must penalize the failure to meet that obligation.

His name is Cyrus and he's lucky to be alive. But he faces a long road back and he may never be what he was before Tuesday. He's the three-year-old Rottweiler who was found locked in his owner's SUV in a parking lot near King and Jameson. The pet was near death when Toronto Humane Society cruelty investigator Tre Smith knocked out a window to rescue the creature. The dog was foaming at the mouth and in severe distress as it was rushed for emergency treatment.

Now veterinarians have determined what they most feared - that the sad-eyed pooch has suffered both brain and kidney damage from which he won't be able to recover. "There's definitely some brain damage there," sighs the Society's Lee Oliver. "It's not as severe as we thought. He's able to stand on his own with some help. We've had him out for a walk. He's able to move his feet in a normal walking order which means he's got motor functions."

While cruelty charges have been laid against the owner, there's a terrible irony in the fact that the man accused of the crime could one day get his animal back. It's an old dilemma Smith faces every day in his difficult but rewarding job. The penalty for a conviction is a $2,000 fine or up to six months in jail and a possible two year prohibition against owning animals. Smith is aware pets can't be put on the same scale as humans, but he wonders if the law is adequate enough to send the right message about mistreating one of the tender hearted creatures.

"They're not tough enough," he makes clear. "They don't have any teeth. We're gumming our way through this thing. How can anyone expect us to do our job properly if we don't have the tools, the resources and the laws and the people to back us up?"

The other factor is the use of car seats. And now this is being pushed for use by children up to eight and nine years of age!

Ironically, one reason was a change parent-drivers made to protect their kids after juvenile air-bag deaths peaked in 1995 - they put them in the back seat, where they are more easily forgotten.

Texas leads the nation with at least 41 deaths, followed by Florida with 37, California with 32, North Carolina and Arizona with 14 apiece, and Tennessee with 13. There were deaths recorded in 44 states - most in the Sun Belt, but many in places not known for hot weather.

The correlation between the rise in these deaths and the 1990s move to put children in the back seat is striking.

"Up to that time, the average number of children dying of hyperthermia in the United States was about 11 a year," says Jan Null, an adjunct professor of meteorology at San Francisco State University who has studied this trend. "Then we put them in the back, turned the car seats around. And from '98 to 2006, that number is 36 a year."

And sometimes it is simply thoughtlessness.

When Andrea Williams and her boyfriend returned to their car, they found their puppy strangled by her leash.

Now Williams wants to spread the word about a danger she had never considered.

"We are so devastated," she said. "The notion never even crossed our minds to unhook the leash."

The puppy, a pug named Lucy, was nearly 6 months old. She apparently jumped from the back seat to the front and back and got caught up in the leash, which Williams found wrapped around the passenger-side seat.

Or I didn't think I would be gone that long.

Family and friends stand by mom after baby left in car

Which means that this wouldn't help anyways; Baby In Hot Car Reminder Devices

Even on a relatively cool day, the temperature inside a parked car can quickly spike to life-threatening levels if the sun is out, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have found. They hope their findings will put to rest the misconception that a parked car can be a safe place for a child or pet in mild weather.

“There are cases of children dying on days as cool as 70 degrees Fahrenheit,” said lead author Catherine McLaren, MD, clinical instructor in emergency medicine. Though past research has documented the temperature spike inside a car on extremely hot days, this is the first time anyone has looked at cooler days, she added.

McLaren collaborated with James Quinn, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine, and Jan Null, an independent certified consulting meteorologist, to measure the temperature rise inside a parked car on sunny days with highs ranging from 72 to 96 degrees F. Their results, published in the July issue of the journal Pediatrics, showed that a car’s interior can heat up by an average of 40 degrees F within an hour, regardless of ambient temperature. Eighty percent of the temperature rise occurred within the first half-hour.

Pets, more so than humans, are susceptible to overheating. While people can roll down windows, turn on the air conditioner or exit the vehicle when they become too hot, pets cannot. And pets are much less efficient at cooling themselves than people are.

Dogs, for example, are designed to conserve heat. Their sweat glands, which exist on their nose and the pads of their feet, are inadequate for cooling during hot days. Panting and drinking water helps cool them, but if they only have overheated air to breathe, dogs can suffer brain and organ damage after just 15 minutes. Short-nosed breeds, like pugs and bulldogs, young pets, seniors or pets with weight, respiratory, cardiovascular or other health problems are especially susceptible to heat-related stress.

Why compare dogs and children?

Because in North America dogs and cats have become surrogate children (and grandchildren). And in Japan too.

They are no longer 'pets', property, but companions.

Approximately one half of all Canadian families include a companion animal, so many of us care passionately about these animals and how to improve their care.

They have evolved a new social role.

Profound changes are happening in the animal health market. Pet owners in the United States are demanding more advanced and expensive treatments for companion animals, driving growth in the companion-animal sector. At the same time, concerns about livestock health care and feeding are driving changes in industrial animal husbandry.

And if you cannot take care of your companion how can you take care of a child.

Media reports of illegal dogfights and illegal betting prompted police to raid 1915 Moonlight Road. After that, Vick began to lie about his involvement in dogfighting and gambling. He lied to his coach, to the team's ownership and to the commissioner of the National Football League (NFL). Not until his lawyers were confronted by the overwhelming amount of evidence against Vick in the federal indictment did he begin to tell at least part of the truth. He signed a plea bargain admitting guilt. He turned state's witness. Last week he held a nationally televised press conference at which he apologised, expressed his shame, and renounced dogfighting.

Vick will be sentenced on December 10. He will go to jail. He will receive a heavy fine. When the new NFL season starts this Saturday, he won't be there. He has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL. The $US71 million in salary for the remaining seven years of his contract has been suspended. He has lost all endorsement contracts. The Atlanta Falcons will seek reimbursement for up to $US22 million of his signing bonus.

Polls show that most American sports fans never want to see him on a football field again. All this even though he has not been convicted of any violent crime against another human being, nor any involvement in narcotics. Rather, Vick's years in the violent underground world of dogfighting represented an affront to the special place dogs hold in society.

What does it mean, then, that this special place is being eroded by the pressures of modern life? In Australia, keeping dogs as companions is in serious decline. Earlier this year, a study commissioned by the Australian Companion Animals Council found a significant decline in the dog population. In 2000, Australians kept 4 million dogs as companions. By this year, the number had dropped to 2.75 million, a plunge of 31 per cent. (Cat numbers also declined over the same period, from 3.2 million to 2.3 million, a fall of 28 per cent.)

Experts attributed the sharp decline to children spending less time playing outdoors and much more time playing video games, and watching TV and the internet. One byproduct of this behavioural shift has been a surge in childhood obesity. Another byproduct, it appears, has been a decline in the role that companion animals, especially dogs, occupy in family life.

Researching this subject, it was fascinating to find the many scholarly studies which measured positive roles that companion animals play in social life, with dogs at the forefront. Various studies have concluded that animal owners have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, higher survival rates after serious illness, and suffer less from loneliness or depression. A number of studies have concluded that companion animals tend to enhance family life.

If dogs are being pushed aside by the accelerating pace of modern life - more technology, less time - if we have less time for the altruism required to keep a dog exercised and engaged, then we are in danger of losing a better part of who we collectively are.


Animal Crimes

Katrina: It's a Dog-Gone Crime

Tiger Tiger Burning Bright

We Love Animals

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PM said...

Agree about harsher laws, stiffer punishment. Used to think that pets got more press on this issue than children but don't feel that way over a 10-span. It is not about comparing children with animals. The issue is a living child or animal that we love, are responsible for, is no longer living through negligence. No small matter.

We also speak out on this issue at a good source and spokesperson for these issues.

Raphael Alexander said...

It's true, that people have come to use dogs and cats as surrogate children. Particularly is this evident when they dress their canines with haloween costumes. This displaced sense of parenting is purely biological, but I can understand the act. I was a dog owner once too.

Now as a parent I support harsh laws for parents who leave their children vulnerable. What sort of laws I'm not sure, but something that drives the point home thoroughly. If the child's life is perceived to be in danger in any way, they should be removed until such time that the parents are deemed fit again. Of course, there has to be solid evidence for removal in the first place. We can't have the government going about taking children because a mother walked away from a stroller for five seconds.