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With the summer months almost upon us, there will no doubt be a lot of clueless or downright cruel people out there leaving dogs, cats and other companion animals alone in hot cars. Those of us who are aware of the problem know that leaving an animal alone in a hot car — even for a few minutes, even if the car is in the shade and the windows are cracked — is like leaving a human baby alone in a hot car. Even a few minutes in there can kill an animal. According to PETA, on a 78 degree Fahrenheit day, a car can easily reach the temperature of 100-102 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of minutes. If external temperatures reach up 90 degrees Fahrenheit, it can get up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit inside of a car, making it a literal death trap for any living creature.

Depending on the city, county and state, Good Samaritans who try to rescue a pet from a hot car are either lauded as heroes (as they should be) or they are charged with anything from criminal trespass to breaking and entering. While it is without a doubt a good idea to brush up on laws where you live regarding leaving animals unattended in a car, there are certain steps that should be taken upon seeing an animal alone in a car on a hot summer’s day.

1. Write Down the Car’s Make, Model, and License Plate Number

If the car is parked near a building, go in and ask the front desk to page the owner of the vehicle. Receptionists, security guards and other front desk attendants are usually cooperative when asked to get a hold of someone.

2. Find an Authority Figure Nearby

Whether that is a police officer, security guard or parking lot attendant, ask them if there is something they can do to get the animal out of the car, even if that means calling someone else higher up on the chain of command. In many counties and states, leaving animals in hot cars is illegal, and in those situations they can break a window to get the animal out.

Here's What To Do When You See An Animal Trapped In A Hot Cariheartdogs.com

3. If no Officer is Nearby, call the Police

Police officers are usually in a position of authority to actually do something if no one else around you can or will be proactive about getting the animal in question out of the car. Not only can they rescue the animal, but depending on what the laws are in the area, they can usually press charges against the pet’s guardian. It might be a good idea to also look for others who can be “witnesses” to the animal’s distress and potentially testify against the reckless guardian if need be.

4. If the Police are Slow to Respond, Contact Animal Control

If the police are too slow in responding, try contacting your local Animal Control Center. Be sure to tell them that it is an emergency.

5. Watch for Signs of Distress in the Animal

Symptoms of heatstroke can be detected through the car window. If you notice the animal is restless, panting heavily, lethargic, has an unusually dark tongue (Note: Breed such as Chows and Sher-Pei’s have naturally dark tongues, not to be confused with heatstroke.), lack of coordination or bloody diarrhea. If you notice these signs then the animal is in severe distress and needs help immediately.

Here's What To Do When You See An Animal Trapped In A Hot Carmnn.com

6. If Authorities Still Haven’t Responded, Try Opening the Door

If the car is unlocked, take the animal out and get him or her to a cool area, preferably indoors or in an air-conditioned car. Give them cold water to drink to bring their temperature down and try once again to locate the guardian. It is also a good idea to contact a local vet center to have the dog checked out or to receive further instructions on how you can help the dog while you wait for their guardian to take over.

Reporting Abuse Can Save a Life

“If you see something, say something” is always a good go-to when you spot an animal in a car. It is up to us to hold one another accountable for the care of our beloved pets. While someone might not intend on harming their pup by running into the store for a quick errand, the sad reality is this seemingly innocuous action could cost the animal their life.

It is always best practice to leave Spot or Fluffy at home in the cool AC rather than bringing them with you to run errands.

Lead image source: Huffington Post

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111 comments on “Here’s What To Do When You See an Animal Trapped in a Hot Car”

Click to add comment
Patricia Welch
1 Years Ago

I\'ve gone into a few cars to help dogs, and even two times with cats. One cat was throwing itself at the rear window - it was so out of it. The Security Guard I had flagged down told me to "mind my own business" and "to leave things alone". Riiiiight.

I told him to watch while I broke into the car, and removed the cat. When the owners came out of the mall, he got all big and bad with them. The people "forgot" the cat was in the car. What an a-hole. He would have let that cat die.

I guess what I\'m saying is, that I\'d take things into my own hands again, and again, if an animal was suffering. It might be against our laws to break into another\'s\' vehicle. But what law are we breaking when we turn our back on suffering?

divine spirit
1 Years Ago

An overbearing woman scolded me and threatened to call the police etc etc on me for leaving my jack russell sleeping in the car on a cool 60 degree afternoon. I left the windows rolled down half way for fresh air Kobe slept through the whole mess as the woman became more indignant. I thank her for her concern Kobe was in NO danger...so much for suburban cat ladies. peace

1 Years Ago

If the situation is dire, and the guardian is not around, I will call the police to inform them I will be breaking the window to get the pet and treat him/her. Some years back a friend was at the Marina and saw a German Shepherd lock in a car, windows shut tight. The dog was obviously near death. He called police, when they got there they got in and removed the dog. Tried giving it water, But it died right there. They waited for the man to return and when he did he said he had been out on his pleasure boat while his dog sat dying. This person needs to suffer the same fate.

Patricia Welch
22 May 2017

I agree. That person does need to know what his poor dog suffered.
But what makes the story even more terrible is that dog probably believed his person would be back for him - that he would never hurt him. R.I.P. GSD - you deserved better </3

1 Years Ago

i found two boxers in distress. it was a scorcher and the windows not even cracked!! it was in the walmart parking lot so i went and got a security guard who paged the people. after 15 more minutes nothing so i called the police. they came and literally waited until the people came out. scolded them and that was it. i was livid. those dogs should have been taken away from these insensitive idiots who were meandering in walmart where it was cool getting groceries!!! the police were absolutley useless. next time i am calling my local spca emergency hotline. not only disgusted with the people but lack of concern from the police!!

Harriet Russell
1 Years Ago

I would try the last one first!

22 May 2017

Don\'t waste time to call Front Desk that\'s the worse services.. call the police and break open the window let the owner learn the lessons next time he/she will never put their dogs or child inside the locked car... that\'s killing them alive. The owner should be sued by the police with US$1000/= penalty in future this will never happen.

Pissed Off
1 Years Ago

grab a heavy baseball bat, wait for the owner to return, smash their face with it, brake the window out of the car. Leave ASAP.

21 May 2017

i am not sure if i would actually do that but i sure like the sound of it and it made me laugh. thanks.

22 May 2017

And take the dog with you to bring to Animal control.

Amy Veloz
1 Years Ago

Call 911and break window! Every second counts and the cops don\'t always show up fast.

Heidi Bresilge
2 Years Ago

I have a hammer in my car for just such a purpose~ first to break in and get the dog, and then to knock the idiot that left them in there over their stupid head!

Drews Rich
2 Years Ago

These people who do this to pets/animals should be subjected to the same treatment. I say we put the owner of these pets in a hot car for 30 minutes no air, can't get out, etc. and see how they like it. Either these people are cruel or irresponsible, either way not fit to own a pet much more have children.

02 Aug 2016

100% agree with you Drew Rich.

Donna Watts
2 Years Ago

Grab the owner and stick him in the boot.


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