(DOGS/PET CARE) Did you know that a car parked in the sun with all windows closed can reach up to 116 degrees in just minutes?
With Memorial Day and hot summer weather just around the corner, it’s important to be aware of the risk of pets dying in hot cars, as well as the legal actions one can take if they see a dog trapped in a hot car.
If you must leave your dog in the car, we suggest parking the car in the shade, having all windows tinted (including clear tint for the windshield), keeping the windows open, and parking the rear of the car so it faces the sun. But the most important preventative measure is not parking the car in the sun, period.
Regardless, if it comes down to watching a dog die in a hot car or breaking the window to save it, we would always break the window. The dog’s guardian will most likely be grateful rather than mad or litigious. Even if you have to replace the window yourself, it will be worth it to save the animal.
Just in time for Heat Awareness Day, read below for tips on what you can do if you see an animal in distress in a locked car. — Global Animal
Animal Legal Defense Fund
(COTATI, CA) – As summer approaches and temperatures rise, the danger of pets dying because negligent owners left them in a hot car grows as well.
Even on a day when it’s 70 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car with all the windows closed can hit 90 degrees in just 10 minutes. On a hot day, the temperature inside a closed car can shoot as high as 116 degrees in the same amount of time.
What can you do, within your legal rights, if you see an animal in distress in a locked car? The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, has some tips.
If you see an animal in distress, call 911.
Most states allow a public safety officer to break into the car and rescue an animal if its life is threatened. Calling 911 is the first step to saving that animal’s life.
Know your state laws.
More and more states are adopting “hot car” laws that prohibit leaving a companion animal unattended in a parked vehicle, with six enacted in just the last two years and two more pending.
Although 20 states have some form of “hot car” laws, the laws differ drastically from place to place:
- Only two states—Wisconsin and Tennessee—have “good Samaritan” laws that allow any person to break a car window to save a pet.
- In 16 states, only public officials such as law enforcement and humane officers can legally break into a car to rescue an animal (Arizona, California. Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington)
- In New Jersey and West Virginia, no one has the authority to break into a vehicle to save an animal, not even law enforcement.
- Legislation is pending in Florida and New York to give would give any concerned bystander the legal right to help an animal in distress. Pending legislation in Pennsylvania would make it illegal to confine a dog or cat in a vehicle in conditions that would jeopardize its health but only a police, public safety, or humane officer would have the legal right to rescue the animal.
Penalties for hot car deaths of companion animals are still limited. Most states limit penalties to misdemeanors or civil fines and infractions, even for repeat offenders. Maine and South Dakota’s laws don’t impose a penalty at all.
Let people know it’s not okay to leave their pet unattended in a car.
When an animal dies in a hot car, most of their humans say they left them “just for a minute.” If you see someone leave their pet in a parked car, tell them that even if it’s a pleasant day outside, the temperature inside the car can skyrocket fast. Cracking a window doesn’t eliminate the risk of heatstroke or death.
Get the message out with an ALDF sunshade
The Animal Legal Defense Fund has created sunshades that remind pet owners of the risks of leaving animals unattended in a car. The sunshades feature the message, “Warning: Don’t leave dogs in hot cars,” in lettering large enough to be readable from across a parking lot. They also urge people to call 911 if they find animals locked in a car and in distress. The sunshades are available aldf.org/hotcars and all proceeds benefit ALDF.
For more information on keeping dogs safe this summer visit aldf.org/hotcars.