What To Do If You See a Dog In a Hot Car

There’s one simple rule with regard to pets in cars: Never leave them unattended even for “a minute to run into a store.” Stuff happens and you can be delayed.

According to the Automobile Association of America, on a hot day (around 80 degrees Fahrenheit), it only takes 10 minutes for the temperature to reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Even at a lower temperature of around 72 degrees Fahrenheit, within an hour the temperature inside the vehicle can register 116 degrees Fahrenheit!

Pets, just like unattended babies, can’t survive in such high temperatures.

It’s important to remember that pets don’t sweat through their skin like humans do. They pant and can quickly dehydrate. Even leaving a window cracked open is not going to prevent a serious situation from occurring.

If you see a dog left unattended in a vehicle, start by noting the make and model of the car, the color and the license plate. In this age of cell phones, take a photograph.

If you are in a parking lot, look for a security patrol and ask them to assist in going to each business attached to the parking lot. In certain situations, where there is a public address system, the center’s management can make a public announcement.

If this has no effect or the center is too big to go to every store, contact 911 and ask for help.

So far, 14 states have specific laws that protect dogs in hot cars: Arizona, California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia.

For example, in Maine, the law states that if an animal’s safety, health or well-being appears to be in immediate danger from heat, cold, or lack of adequate ventilation, and the conditions could reasonably be expected to cause extreme suffering or death, a law enforcement officer, humane agent, or animal control officer may take all steps that are reasonably necessary to remove an animal from a motor vehicle. The official removing the animal must leave written notice bearing the officer’s or agent’s name and office and the address of the location where the animal may be claimed.

Certain city and town municipalities also have laws that prohibit leaving an animal in a confined vehicle. So it’s a good idea to ascertain what the situation is where you live.

However, even if your city has no specific laws, a driver could be charged for committing an act of cruelty.

Animal rescue organizations often have flyers on their websites pertaining to pets in vehicles that can be downloaded and printed. However, schoolteachers are always looking for class projects. Designing a flyer and handing them out at shopping centers could be a great class activity – and could save lives.

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