HIGH RIDGE — Two dogs died in a hot car this week while their owner was inside a dog-training center listening to a lecture on how to become a paid dog trainer, the facility’s founder said Thursday.
“She had cranked up the AC as high as it would go, believing there would be no problem,” Tom Rose, owner of The Tom Rose School, told the Post-Dispatch. “The car quit running and she didn’t get there in time.”
Rose said the dogs, a Labrador Retriever and a German shepherd, were dead when she found them. He estimates the hourlong lecture ran longer than expected, and said the dogs were found dead around 3 or 4 p.m. Wednesday. The National Weather Service said temperatures were in the low 90s in the region at the time.
Rose said it appears the car may have run out of gas during the lecture.
“It was just a terrible accident,” Rose said. “The owner of the dogs was incoherent. It’s a horrible thing, and she was so upset.”
Rose said police weren’t called. “There was no reason to notify the police. There was no negligence involved. Just a very unfortunate accident.”
The training center near High Ridge is in unincorporated Jefferson County, and the county animal control division also wasn’t alerted to the incident.
The Tom Rose School is for professional dog trainers and is located at 6701 Antire Road. He said he has been in the business 40 years and that what happened Wednesday was tragic and rare. He recalls a similar death about 25 years ago. In that case, a dog was left in a car while its owner was inside talking to training staff. The owner went outside to find the dog in distress. Staff members tried to help the dog by hosing it down with water but it died.
Experts who study heat-related deaths inside cars warn that a car’s interior can heat up quickly in a matter of minutes. No one at the scene Wednesday took a temperature reading inside the car, something police investigators normally would do, and it’s unclear how long the car had been without air conditioning, Rose said. The woman’s car may have been partly in the shade, he said.
The average temperature inside a car is 19 degrees higher than the outside air temperature after about 10 minutes. After another 10 minutes, it goes up 10 additional degrees, experts say.
The Humane Society of Missouri earlier this week released tips for pet owners during hot weather. The top tip: Never leave a pet unattended in a parked car when the temperature is near or above 70 degrees.