By Jon Sutz
Founder, HeatKills.us (and previously, HeatKills.org)
My name is Jon, and I love dogs.
One dog, however, transformed my life, and helped to save my spirit after the 9/11 attacks: Shayna. I spent the happiest twelve years of my life with her. The effect she had on me was so profound that I wrote a book (my first) about her, and the unlimited potential of the human-dog relationship, when it is approached responsibly, and with great care and mindfulness. Learn about Shayna, my book about her, and how she helped inspire me to create a world-class resource to help prevent dogs from suffering in hot cars, here.
What are my qualifications to create a website about the heatstroke danger to dogs?
On paper, I should not be qualified to say anything substantive about heatstroke and dogs:
- I'm not a veterinarian
- I have no formal education in dog physiology, or in the science of how hot the interior of a car can get, even with the windows partially down
What I have deep experience in, however, is:
- Converting complex and controversial data into visual formats that the average person can grasp (examples here)
- Investigative journalism
- Copy writing
- Information architecture
In summary, I am a visualization and graphic designer, writer and creative consultant, based in Charlottesville, VA. Learn about my work here.
Prior to the 9/11 attacks, I worked primarily in advertising, marketing, corporate communications and litigation media.
After 9/11, I did two things:
(1) I redirected my work to doing everything I can to help defend freedom, America, and Western civilization. In short, I wanted my work to mean more than a paycheck, and to gain the satisfaction of using my skills to advance my core values.
(2) I began searching for my first dog. After a long, frustrating journey, just when I was about to give up (after 3 months), I hit the jackpot: I met Shayna, at 11 weeks, who'd been rescued hours earlier from a traumatic situation. I instantly fell in love (see her baby pictures here), and over the next 12 years, we enjoyed a love unlike anything I'd known before.
How I got involved in the issue of heatstroke and dogs
As I describe in Sections 3 and 4 here, I stumbled on the issue of people leaving dogs in hot cars, totally by accident. In short, every time I observed (and documented) the muffled sound of a dog barking in a car, in April-October, in direct sunlight, it always struck me as an insanely stupid and dangerous for its owner to do. This was only a visceral sense, however; as I said, I had zero scientific knowledge about the issue.
I did some research, and talked with veterinarians, police and animal control officers, and several climate scientists, and concluded that my visceral sense was not just accurate - it was causing dogs around the world to suffer in unspeakable ways.
While I found lots of information and allegations about heatstroke and dogs spread across the Internet, I found no dedicated resource that gave the average person a "crash course" in these issues -- let alone presented so simply that even a child could understand it.
In honor of Shayna, and all the other amazing dogs I met in the past, I knew I had the skills to create the resource I sought, but could not find.
As described here:
- In 2014 I unveiled HeatKills.org (archive here), which over the next six years became a widely-respected and -cited resource, in America and beyond, for quality information about heatstroke and dogs.
- In 2020, unbeknownst to me, my domain registrar failed to auto-renew my HeatKills.org (as it had for the previous six years, without my having to do anything), and it was bought by an anonymous purchaser, who refused the registrar's efforts to buy it back (at any price). In summary, seven years of my work had been destroyed.
HeatKills.us is my effort to create a slimmed-down, simpler version of HeatKills.org.
It is my hope that via HeatKills.us and the resources I created for it, I and other dog lovers will be able to help save the lives of dogs who might otherwise be left in hot cars.
And on this day, May 12, 2023, I am proud to publicly unveil the new site, that was inspired from the start by the love, intelligence and incredible cognitive ambition of the "miracle dog" with whom I spent the happiest years of my life.
RIP Shayna Angele Sutz (1/7/02 - 3/26/14)