August is approaching us and the heat waves are hitting hard. Parts of the country have hit triple digits over the last week, and it’s not just the humans who are suffering. Therefore we wanted to answer the question, can you safely leave your dog in the car?
Every year we hear horror stories of pets being left alone in vehicles with barely a cracked window to ease their suffering. With no water and no telling when their owners will return, good samaritans have resorted to smashing windows to rescue animals from overheating cars.
How Hot Is Too Hot?
But just how hot is TOO hot? Even though 70˚ sounds like an ideal temperature outside, it can quickly climb to over 100˚ in just 30 minutes within a car! Heatwave temps in the 90s can get up to about 130˚ within the same amount of time….even with the windows cracked!
It’s easy to see why people are helping to rescue stranded animals from unattended cars, even at seemingly safe temperatures. But is it legal? Unfortunately, not every state has taken steps to protect a pet’s rights or the rights of good samaritans.
Know your State laws!
Only 28 states have enacted specific laws against leaving your pet in an unattended vehicle in dangerous conditions. Of those, only 11 have created laws that protect a good samaritan from criminal charges: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
However, all 50 states do have laws against animal abuse and cruelty, and people have been prosecuted successfully for trapping their helpless pets in dangerous conditions. Some local and municipality laws do specifically call out the issue, so make sure you check the laws in your hometown. This past week, a new bill has been introduced that would make animal cruelty a nationwide felony.
Tips for Spotting Doggos in Car Jail
So what is the best way to handle a situation if you see a dog or other animal (or child for that matter!) trapped in an unattended vehicle this summer?
- Do everything within your power (within reason) to locate the owner. One example is asking a store to make an announcement over the intercom.
- Call the police to report the incident. You may also want to call animal control to expedite receiving official help. Make sure to note the time you noticed the situation so you can tell the authorities.
- Stay with the vehicle until help (or the owner) arrives.
- If help has not arrived and the dog is in danger of dying, you may want to intervene. Use your own judgment, and consider that breaking into someone’s car may carry legal ramifications. You may be financially responsible for damages, face fines, or even receive jail time depending on the laws in your state and the local area.
If you encounter the owner, remember that all of us make mistakes, and many of us are unaware of just how quickly the temperature can rise inside a vehicle. Calmly inform the owner of how hot a car can become, even with the windows cracked, and that someone may (if not already) break into their car to save their dog. Hopefully, this will be a lesson to them that their four-legged best friend is best left at home during the summer.
EcoBark Pet Supplies is dedicated to helping relieve our pets of the added heat a normal dog harness can give. That's why all our harnesses are made with breathable Mesh fabrics. It's our own little way of making sure your doggo stays cool during the summer heat!