What should I do if I see a dog left in a locked car on a hot day?
First, everyone needs to be aware of these facts: Cars heat up very fast so while it may seem pleasant to you, the car could well be a scorching 20 degrees hotter inside. According to the ASPCA, on an 85-degree day, the inside of a locked car can reach 120 degrees within 30 minutes. This puts young, elderly, overweight and dark-colored dogs at risk of overheating. Also be aware that dogs do not have sweat glands the way we do. Their cooling mechanism is panting—and that’s a lot less efficient than sweating.
On the ASPCA website: “Even the healthiest pets can suffer from dehydration, heat stroke and sunburn if overexposed to the heat,” says Dr. Lila Miller, ASPCA Vice President of Veterinary Outreach, “and heat stroke can be fatal if not treated promptly.”
Second, know that it is illegal is 14 states to confine a dog to a parked car in hot weather. States include: Arizona, California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia.
Offenders can be fined, or even imprisoned, but it first needs to be proven that the dog’s life was in jeopardy.
You also need to be aware of the laws and regulations in your specific area regarding this matter: Some people want to remove dogs from cars if the owners refuse to act or if local law enforcement is too slow to arrive—you’ll want to be sure you’re not breaking any laws! Your local ASPCA or humane society will most likely be able to help you.
If you’re out and about on a hot day and see an animal alone in a car, you should immediately try to find the car’s owner. If you have no luck, or if the owner refuses to act, contact local law enforcement and/or animal control.
The ASPCA also has flyers which you can print out and distribute in your neighborhood to help educate people about the danger of leaving pets in hot cars. To view, please visit: https://www.aspca.org/Blog/~/media/files/pet-care/pets-in-hot-cars.pdf.