Editorial: January-February 2004
Warning on canine travel quarters
RECENTLY I heard a very sad story about some beautiful show dogs.
World class stud and show dog Ole, one of his sons (already on his way to making a large impact on the stud scene), another stud champion owned by the same breeder, and two top class golden retrievers owned by a friend of the Labrador breeder, were attending a show in Spain.
As the dogs were not allowed inside the hotel their owners were staying at for the show weekend, they were made comfortable in the car for the night. So that they had plenty ventilation for the night, the windows were all left an inch or two down.
The owners went to bed, satisfied their precious cargo would be safe, but when they came down to the car park in the morning, four of the dogs were dead - only Ole clung to life. He was rushed to the nearest vet and was in a critical condition for the next 24 hours, but he survived and is now back to normal.
The cause of the dogs' deaths was carbon monoxide poisoning - it seems that the hotel underground carpark has a constant flow of traffic and little ventilation, not the type of place where you would want to remain for a friendly chat in your car or even sit with a pencil and work out your shopping list - those places are lethal!
A timely warning with the travelling season upon us right now ... and on that note yet another example of things to avoid. New Zealand's inter-island ferries came in for some flack when I related the story of the hotel carpark to a friend. Her son-in-law was travelling to the South Island on a hunting trip so took his car in the ferry and left his hunting dogs in the car - only a three or four hour trip at the most, so they had to be safe. Again he left the windows slightly down but that was all it took - the exhaust fumes of the cars all negotiating themselves into position on the ferry caused a build-up of carbon monoxide that his hunting dogs just did not survive.
So please everyone heed the warning - don't leave your dogs in your car in any confined space at all, even if you think it is safe - underneath a shopping building or hotel, on a ferry, anywhere that cars gather in confined spaces, your dog should not be there!
Both the hotels and the ferries have covered themselves for such problems - they have clear rules stating that such action is at the user's own risk. But the problem there is that they don't explain what they think the risk could be! To the uninitiated when a hotel owner says dogs are left in the carpark at the owners risk, what would the owner think is meant by that statement?
Perhaps thieves could break into the car and steal the dogs ... perhaps the building could catch fire ... perhaps the owner of another competing dog may try to harm them ... but you would not think of carbon monoxide poisoning unless you had heard of such problems before or unless the person giving the warning specified the type of risk likely to be involved. Nobody would be likely to take that kind of risk with their pet or showdog if they knew gas poisoning was a possibility - a risk of that nature is too loaded against the dog and becomes more a certainty than a risk. But it is a risk that is just not being clearly explained to clients.
Once again, please never leave your dogs in a car in any confined situation whatsoever. And do all have a really enjoyable holiday season. - Elezabeth