Sheriff, Pet Helpers come together to encourage safe pet care

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- In an effort to curb heat and celebration related pet deaths and mishaps, Pet Helpers hosted a special press conference Tuesday. During the conference, pet owners were warned about the dangers of a pet's prolonged exposure to heat and fear that can be created by fireworks.

"This is an effort of prevention, to prevent animals from being hurt in this heat and as a result of the Fourth of July and the fireworks celebrations," said Pet Helpers executive director Kevin Ryan. "You know, we all love the Fourth of July, but it is, historically, one of the busiest days in animal shelters of the year -- the fifth of July.

Ryan said animals get stressed as a result of loud booms and flashes created by fireworks. He said it causes panic attacks.

"In that panic attack, they tend to bolt," he said.

Ryan said pet owners should help their pets avoid noise and have a secure and comfortable place for the pet if near a celebration including fireworks. He advised against taking a pet to a public fireworks display. He also suggested pet owners make sure their pet's identification tags are up to date with contact information.

As a part of the press conference, local veterinarian Dr. Jack Love spoke about the dangers of heat, specifically about the dangers of leaving a pet in a car.

"The first thing to really kind of understand is your car acts like a greenhouse," Dr. Love said. "...There is no way for heat to escape."

In just 70-degree heat, according to Dr. Love, the temperature in a car can rise to 115 degrees in 30 minutes.

"Studies have been done to show that cracking the windows does not help," he said.

Sheriff Al Cannon was at the press conference, his role, to remind the public of the law.

"There are certain responsibilities that go along with owning a pet or being responsible for a pet," Cannon said. "...Whether you are the direct owner or someone else is, you can be held responsible.

"The state law generally requires people treat animals in a reasonable fashion."

Cannon said charges related to leaving a pet in a car can amount up to a felony in certain circumstances.