On this week's episode, Teen Mom 2 star Leah Messer actually thought it was OK to leave the family's cat in the car for what seemed like hours. As a cat owner myself, I was heartbroken and upset to see this.
Granted, she did crack a window so the poor thing wouldn't suffocate, but her decision (or lack of decision) to leave him in the car for a lengthy amount of time was negligent. No stranger to controversy, she has recently gotten some pretty harsh criticism for the way she cares for her children as well. She recently lost custody of her children after a long battle with the children's father, Corey Sims.
The cat incident happened when Leah's daughter Ali was running late for her choir performance because her mom had forgotten her uniform tie. While Leah was inside retrieving said tie, her other daughter, Aleeah, snuck the cat into the car as a joke. When Leah realized what her twins were giggling about, she decided to just leave the cat in the car rather than taking it home. I get it, moms are busy and rushed, but would it have taken that much extra time to bring the cat back inside?
While it is unclear exactly how long the poor little guy was left in the car, owners should know any amount of time over five minutes is too long, no matter the outside temperature. Sure, it wasn't a hot summer day when the cat was left inside the car, but most pet owners don't know that even on seemingly cool days, the temperature inside a car can reach dangerous levels pretty quickly. According to Petfinder, the temperature in your car rises about 40 degrees every hour on an average, 72-degree day. Even if it was only 50 degrees on the day in question, that means the cat was experiencing 90 degree temperatures after just one hour in the car, and most of that increase happens after only the first 30 minutes.
A cracked window doesn't help lower those climbing temperatures whatsoever. According to a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, the temperature is just as high in a car with a cracked window as one with all the windows up.
If you're thinking parking under a shade structure might help keep things cooler, you're wrong again. Parking in the shade may slow the rising temperatures, but it does not prevent animals from getting heatstroke in the hot sun.
Some cats, especially older ones, babies and one's with pushed in noses, are especially susceptible to extreme temperatures.
Oh, and here's something Leah should consider — leaving a pet unattended in a vehicle for any length of time is actually illegal in her state. According to West Virginia law, "[the violator] upon conviction shall be fined not less than $300 nor more than $2,000 or confined in jail not more than 6 months, or both."
So far, it's one of 16 states with such animal cruelty laws, but that number is climbing. Such a conviction is probably the last thing Leah wants to deal with while she's waiting for an appeal on custody of her twins.
Needless to say, the pet community is pretty furious at the young mom. Many have threatened to report her to animal rights groups, and now they can actually bring her up on legal charges, if they so choose.
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