What You Need to Know about Leaving Dogs in Hot Cars

What You Need to Know about Leaving Dogs in Hot Cars


As temperatures begin to soar across the country, it’s time once again to warn people against leaving dogs in cars.

In addition, here are some heartbreaking stories to make you think and remind you once again that temperatures inside vehicles are hotter than you realize – even with all of the windows cracked.

ASPCA warnings: It’s hotter than you think inside a vehicle

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) warns that even on an 85-degree day, in only ten minutes, a parked car’s interior temperature can reach 102 degrees. At that same temperature, in 30 minutes, the vehicle’s interior temperature will rise to a deadly 120 degrees.

To illustrate the point, even in cooler weather interior temperatures in vehicles rises. For example, at 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with all the windows rolled up, within an hour the interior temperature and the car could rise to 90 degrees, according to the ASPCA.

The most vulnerable animals for overheating are young, elderly or overweight, as well as, those with short muscles, and thick or dark-colored coats.

Don’t overestimate shade

You might think leaving your dog in the car in a shaded area will make a difference – but it makes very little difference. Shade offers little protection. You also have to remember that shade moves with the movement of the sun.

You can download a heat-safety infographic and flyer from the ASPCA website.

Leaving dogs in hot cars is illegal in many areas

Thankfully for our furry friends, many areas have passed legislation making it illegal to leave animals in vehicles during excessively warm or hot weather conditions. Many areas have also made it legal for bystanders to forcefully break windows to remove children or animals from hot cars.

In the state of Nevada, anyone leaving a dog in a hot car can be fined $1000 or face six months in jail.

What to do if you see a dog in a hot car

However, remember removing an animal from someone’s locked vehicle in hot conditions isn’t legal in all areas. While some states have these Good Samaritan laws for emergency situations, some states don’t.

Sadly, at least 26 states have laws that make it legal, in one way or another, to leave an animal in a parked vehicle, according to research from Michigan State University’s Animal Legal and Historical Center. You could be charged for criminal damage if it’s not legal in your area. When in doubt, contact the local police (call 911), as well as, take photos or video of the dog, as well as, record license plate numbers. Note the date, the time and the names and numbers of any witnesses. Stay by the car until help arrives.

Still, if you feel the need or it’s imperative to break the windows and remove the dog from the car, just make sure that you have taken detailed notes of everything as previously explained. It may or may not protect you from being criminally cited, but not having this information surely will leave you at a higher risk of a citation.

Police officers, however, do have the right to break windows if necessary to rescue an animal they feel is threatened, and often do.

What to do after removing a dog from hot car

  • Don’t give the dog cold water immediately, as this could put the pet in shock.
  • Move the dog to a cool area and poor small amounts of cool water on its body.
  • Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool, but not cold water.
  • Take the dog to the nearest veterinarian.

Stories about dogs in hot cars to make you think

Here are several stories about dogs in hot cars and hot cars, in general, to make you think twice about leaving an animal alone in a locked vehicle under warm or hot conditions – even with the windows slightly down.

6 dogs die outside veterinary clinic

If there’s any story that serves as a prime example of how misleading outdoor temperatures can be compared to the heat inside a locked car – this heartbreaking story is it. It also shows that you cannot trust a running car and air conditioning as being reliable for protecting your animals inside the car.

A woman in South Carolina took her six dogs to the veterinary clinic, but left them outside in the car because of the other aggressive dogs there, according to police. The outside temperature was 84 degrees Fahrenheit, which means the temperature could have soared above 100 degrees while the woman was inside the clinic.

According to a local news report, the woman told the police she was at the veterinary clinic in order to get emergency help for the animals, though it unclear as to what help the animals needed at the time of the report.

The woman told officers that she had left the air conditioning on in the car when she went into the clinic. However, when she returned forty-five minutes later the car had stopped running and the dogs were in distress. All six dogs died.

The woman is facing up to $1100 in fines or 30 in jail for each of the six dogs under charges of confining a canine in a motor vehicle.

Veterinarian does hot car test

A veterinarian named Dr. Ernie Ward decided to find out personally what it feels like for a dog that has been locked in a hot car.

To experience it for himself, Dr. Ward sat in his car with all four of the windows cracked about an inch. He armed himself with a clock, thermometer and a video camera to record every moment.

Dr. Ward recorded the temperature from beginning to end for thirty minutes. It was a typical summer day, and although he did not report what the outdoor temperature was, the beginning temperature inside the car was 94 degrees. By the end of the thirty minutes, even with all four windows cracked, the temperature reached 117 degrees – an increase of 23 degrees!

In such temperatures, your dog could experience heat stroke, brain damage or death within just fifteen minutes.

Cops show 2 women by example

Some police officers in Ohio decided to prove a point to a woman who had locked her dog in a hot car.

To demonstrate how hot it can get inside a locked car for an animal, the officers made the woman sit inside the car with the engine off and the windows up for just a few minutes. In mere minutes, the woman was visibly uncomfortable. The officers released her and told her if she did this again she would be cited.

While the woman said she was fine, she called what the officers did “abusive.”

Reportedly, officers in New Mexico did the same thing to another woman.

While some people feel the police officers in both cases may have went too far, others feel no harm was done in educating people about what a serious threat being locked in a hot car is to animals.