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Dog dies of heatstroke, owner faces charges

A Cottage Grove resident whose dog died of heat stroke while out in hot, humid weather on Tuesday faces animal cruelty charges.

Charges are pending against Jonathan J. White, 26, whose 2- to 3-year-old black and tan pit bull was spotted tied to a tree in the 8000 block of Scott Boulevard around noon Tuesday, said Cottage Grove Police Department Capt. Pete Koerner.

The dog could not access shelter or water, he said. Police later learned that there was a water bowl out in the yard that had been tipped over, but the dog had wrapped itself so tightly around the tree it was tied to that it wouldn't have been able to reach the bowl if it had contained water, he said.

A passerby, who saw that the dog appeared to be very sick and was unable to stand, gave the dog water and called police. The dog took a few sips of water and vomited, Koerner said.

The temperature was about 90 degrees and the dew point was about 70 percent at the time police arrived.

Police took the dog to Park Grove Pet Hospital. The dog's temperature was so high, a thermometer wouldn't give an exact reading, he said. A veterinarian and three certified veterinary technicians attempted to cool the dog, but it went into cardiac arrest. It died of cardiac respiratory complications due to severe heatstroke, Koerner said.

Police did talk with White, who was distressed to find out the condition of his dog, Koerner said. He told police the dog had been out since about 10 a.m. that day, he said.

Dogs are worse at tolerating heat than humans because they don't have sweat glands, rather they are cooled by panting, said Dr. Dan Cederstrom, veterinarian and owner of Park Grove Pet Hospital. He said pet owners should watch the temperature and the heat index when deciding whether to put dogs outside.

"If it is a (heat) warning for us, you need to heed that warning for your animals as well," he said. "If you're going to be outside with your pet when it's really hot, do it in the early morning hours or the early evening before it gets too hot."

If dogs are outside, it's important to make sure they have access to shade and water, he said, and it's better for them to have small amounts of water continuously than to have a lot at one time.

If a dog does exhibit symptoms of heatstroke, which include excessive panting and becoming lethargic, it's best to get the dog into the shade, and start applying cool -- not cold -- water to the inside of the thighs on the back legs and the stomach area, he said.

Owners should not submerge the dog in water because that can drop the temperature too quickly, he said.

"The big thing is paying attention to your pet and recognizing the symptoms as quickly as possible," he said.

A dog owner who suspects heatstroke should take the dog to see a veterinarian, even if the animal seems to be doing better, because true heatstroke can take 48 to 72 hours to go away, and can cause internal injuries, he said.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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