Client: Internal project
Category: An activism website I created to prevent dogs from suffering in hot cars
URL: HeatKills.org (now becoming HeatKills.us)

(1) Updates

(2) Why I created HeatKills.org

(3) My progress in developing HeatKills.org: 2012 – fall 2020


  • UPDATE, June 17, 2022: Here is a 7-minute radio interview I did on a Virginia talk radio station, regarding heatstroke and dogs, and my creation of HeatKills.org.
  • HeatKills.org was a website I created to present factual information, in a responsible way, about why it is so dangerous to leave a dog in a car, even when its caregiver thinks it is a “cool” day. I operated the site as my time permitted, and did many radio interviews about it, from 2014-2020.
  • The fully-functional archive version of the site is below; the site and internal links are slow to load, but most of the content is there:

Last archive version of HEATKILLS.ORG – 27JULY2020

  • As described below, however, due to the negligence of the domain registration & hosting company with which I did business, the HeatKills.org domain was lost. In the near future I will be rebuilding the site at HeatKills.us.
  • All of my work to create the HeatKills project was inspired by my first dog, Shayna, who I adopted after 9/11, and who transformed my life so much I wrote my first book about her, and the human-dog relationship.


(1) Updates

UPDATE, May 26, 2021: I created a new infographic slide show regarding heatstoke and dogs, in preparation for re-launch as HeatKills.us

In advance of my recreation of HeatKills.org into HeatKills.us (see January 4 update, below), I produced this slide show, to help educate dog parents, police officers and the dog-loving public with information on why dogs should never be left in cars., and to announce the upcoming debut of the new site. Please feel free to share. Constructive comments are appreciated.

“This slide show is very informative and relevant to the work we do.  We often get calls for service which revolve around someone leaving a pet in a vehicle on a hot day.  It is important to provide our staff with this information to ensure they are well-informed when responding to these calls.  Thank you.”

– Lt. Anthony McBee, University of Virginia Police Department, Charlottesville, VA

“This is a great presentation to help law enforcement and other community members understand the severe dangers of canine overheating in a hot car. I think the presentation is accurate and well developed.”

Dr. Tripp Stewart (over 21 years veterinary experience)
Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital, Charlottesville, VA

UPDATE, January 4, 2021: HeatKills.org domain was lost, due to the negligence of a domain registration company; it will become HeatKills.us, at some point in the future

The domain registration & website hosting company (“the company”) from which I bought the HeatKills.org domain in 2012 is one of the largest in America.  It auto-renewed the domain each year since then, without my having to do anything except make sure there’s always sufficient funds in my billing credit card (there is). For context, I also own 44 other domains (yes, really), and there has never been an issue with either billing or auto-renewals.

In the fall of 2020, the company auto-billed me for the renewal of my HeatKills.org domain — but failed to renew it. I didn’t even become aware of this fact until December 2020 when I was doing an year-end inventory of my total domain ownership roster, and noticed that the company said I no longer owned HeatKills.org.  Further, it indicated that someone else had bought the domain.

Figuring this must be a mistake, I contacted the company, and after conducting an investigation, took full responsibility, and said it was due to an unknown technical glitch on its side. Its legal department assured me it would do whatever is necessary to identify the new owner of the HeatKills.org domain, and buy it back for me, but it was been unable to either identify the owner (who has anonymity protection), or to buy it back.

This technical glitch, and the company’s inability to buy my HeatKills.org domain back, has destroyed eight years of my work to create and develop HeatKills.org, to help prevent dogs from suffering in hot cars.

This was particularly disturbing because in the spring of 2021, I was planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign for HeatKills.org (a previous one, in 2015, failed – and I wanted to apply the lessons I’d learned since then from successful crowdfunders).

I share this information for two reasons:

(1) Because if the company doesn’t agree to settle this matter in a fair and reasonable manner, I will file a lawsuit to achieve this outcome

(2) To explain why I bought HeatKills.us domain, and will have to move all of HeatKills.org’s there

(2) Why I created HeatKills.org

The problem

11-300x225Dogs throughout America (and the world) are suffering and dying from heatstroke, as a result of being left in hot cars. In most cases, this occurs because dog owners are unaware of the dangers of leaving them in cars, even on seemingly “cool” (eg 70 degree) days, and even if the windows are left partially open.

This public unawareness is largely the result of the fact that local authorities – police departments, shopping mall and movie theater managers, animal shelters, etc. – are also unaware of this danger. Or worse, as I documented in a recent report, they publicize dangerously incorrect medical information that, according to veterinarians, if followed, would likely make a dog in possible heatstroke worse, or kill it.

Because of this knowledge deficiency, when intelligent but uninformed people encounter a dog in a hot car, they often will leave the scene without doing anything, either because they don’t recognize the danger, or hope that the dog won’t be left there for long. Even if they do sense the danger and call the police, in many cases they are told that the local laws do not allow for a dog to be rescued from a vehicle, unless it is clearly in “distress” – meaning that it is displaying symptoms of heatstroke.

In reality, this means that the dog is already suffering the early or advanced signs of brain damage, and/or damage to other internal organs. And in many cases, it is too late to save the dog; it will die an agonizing, painful death – a death that was 100% preventable, had its owner, the general public and local law enforcement had the knowledge and ability to save it.

The solution I developed: HeatKills.org

20July14 2 little dogsSince 2012 I have been videotaping incidents of dogs being left in hot cars in Charlottesville, VA (see video of scene at right here). Although I did not have specific knowledge about why this was so dangerous, I had seen numerous news stories about dogs suffering and dying in hot cars throughout America. As a passionate dog “parent,” I suspected that what I was observing with my own eyes could lead to such a tragic outcome, if someone didn’t intervene in time.

Unfortunately, I had repeated instances with dog owners, and law enforcement and mall personnel who doubted or dismissed my concerns. Although I found lots of allegations about the dangers to dogs regarding heatstroke, few linked back to reliable scientific sources that I could check for myself. Of those that did provide credible links, both the source and reference material was often awkward and spread out in different places on the Internet. I tried but was unable to find one site that presented all this information in a way that the average person could quickly grasp, and to which I could refer when I got into any future disputes with people/authorities who harbor such misconceptions.

To fill this gap, in the hope of helping to prevent any more dogs from suffering and dying in hot cars, I designed and built a new website from the ground up: HEATKILLS.org.

One of the key features of HeatKills.org is the core infographic that shows, in simple terms, how quickly the interior temperature of a car rises, even on a “cool” day, and even with its windows partially open:

I then integrated that graphic into an array of master art for printable, distributable flyers and other media tools by which to help prevent dogs from suffering in hot cars:

Spring 2020: I secured HeatKills.org’s first paying sponsor, Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital.

I did all of this work in honor and loving memory of Shayna, the “miracle dog” who helped to save my life after 9/11, about whom I wrote my first book:

Shayna, circa 2008.

(3) Major progress notes: 2012 – fall 2020

The following are some of the highlights in the progress I made to advance HeatKills.org’s resources to the broader public, to help prevent dogs from suffering in hot cars, until the domain was lost – due to the negligence of my registrar (see January 4 update at top):

(1) 2013: I bought the domain HeatKills.org, and began building the site

(2) 2014: I wrote an investigative report that exposed an SPCA for dispensing catastrophically incorrect medical advice about treating a dog in heatstroke

(3) 2014: I conducted an interview with one of America’s most famous veterinarians, and heatstroke experts, Ernie Ward, DVM

(4) 2014-2020: Various website, blogs and news sites began citing HeatKills.org assets

(5) 2014-2020: I participated in an ongoing array of radio interviews about HeatKills.org

(6) 2015: I incorporated HeatKills.org as a Virginia non-stock corporation, in preparation for seed capital crowdfunding campaign

(7) 2015: Agreement with central Virginia parks & recreation department, to install HeatKills banners at off-leash dog parks

(8) June 2020: HeatKills.org’s first paid flyer sponsor

(4) 2014-2020: Various website, blogs and news sites began citing HeatKills.org assets

One of the biggest permission requests I received was from RV Living magazine, for a feature they produced here.

Being that HeatKills.org no longer exists, however, nor do the email addresses where I received auto-alerts, and I have no idea of the full extent of these citations.  All of this data is now permanently lost because of HostGator’s negligence. Below are some of the blogs and publications that cited HeatKills.org’s research, or featured its infographics, that I archived as they occurred, through the years:

(5) 2014-2020: I participated in an ongoing array of radio interviews about HeatKills.org which spurred websites, blogs and news sites to begin citing HeatKills.org assets

The following is a sampling of the radio shows on which I was asked to appear, in large part because of the quality of the heatstroke and dog-related infographics, research and documentation that I created for HeatKills.org. Many occurred in Virginia, but as time went on, and were heard on podcasts, I received requests from stations in other states, over roughly five years:

(6) 2015: I incorporated HeatKills.org as a Virginia non-stock corporation, in preparation for seed capital crowdfunding campaign

On August 13, 2015, I registered HeatKills.org, Inc., as a Virginia non-stock corporation, in preparation to do a seed capital crowdfunding campaign.  The campaign was not successful; see the donations page here; . Here is the promotional video I produced:

(7) 2015: Agreement with central Virginia parks & recreation department, to install HeatKills banners at off-leash dog parks

From 2014-2015 I worked to solicit central Virginia auto dealers to sponsor the printing and distribution of HeatKills.org flyers, including at area off-leash dog parks. In the course of developing this campaign, it occurred to me to ask the Albemarle County Parks & Recreation Department if it would be possible to place large vinyl banners, bearing the auto dealer’s logo, in the off-leash dog parks it manages.

One of the requirements for consideration was for me to produce graphic mock-ups of what I am proposing. Based on the following images I created, this approval was quickly granted.  Unfortunately, I was unable to secure a sponsor, so the idea went into stasis.

(8) June 2020: HeatKills.org’s first flyer sponsor

One of my priorities has been to find a business or philanthropist to sponsor the printing of HeatKills.org flyers, for distribution at pet-related facilities year-round, but particularly during the spring, summer and fall months.  As I discovered, to identify prospective sponsors, conduct research to find the right person, break through the gatekeepers can be a difficult, long ordeal, and given how busy I have been, I had to do this work in spurts.

In the spring of 2020, however, I found one such sponsor, in Tripp Stewart, DVM, owner of Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital, here in Charlottesville, VA (where I was based at the time).  Here is the flyer I produced for GEAH:

With persistence, I was able to persuade the managers of local pet businesses to allow me to place and perpetually restock these displays

Here, for example, are my displays at one of the two PetSmart stores in Charlottesville:


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