Dogs in Hot Cars

Thermometer reads 103

My car thermometer. It was only 103 degrees outside when I got home at 6:00PM yesterday.

Most people know not to leave a child in a hot car, but I keep seeing dogs in hot cars. Here is what you do if you want to help a poor dog in a hot car.

It’s hot in a U.S. southwest with record highs above 100 degrees across the region. I feel lucky. The 103 above in my car was taken at 6:00pm yesterday, but it only got to 105 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. It’s cooling off from a few days ago, and it’s not like it’s 127 (Death Valley) or 112 (Las Vegas) or 111 (Phoenix). It’s hot enough to melt sneakers there.

To keep my family cool, I just open every window in the house at night (it’s relatively cool in the shade in the high desert), and we stay inside during the day. On those few occasions when I need to go out, I do not linger outside.

Everyone knows it’s hot, right? Everyone knows not to stay out in the heat, right? I’m not so sure.

I have seen dogs in cars every day, and I have wondered what to do. Yesterday, a friend of mine saw two dogs in a car and posted angrily on Facebook about it. Fortunately, a police officer friend weighed in with options.

How Hot Does a Car Get

If it is 90 degrees outside, the temperature can rise to 109 in 10 minutes and 138 in 90 minutes. Infants, children, and pets left in hot cars can and do die.

If you wonder whether you should do something when you see a pet in a car, you should.

Your Options

Keep in mind that your local laws and fines could be different than mine.

Check Whether the Door Is Locked. Before you do something rash like break a window, just check whether there is an unlocked car door. You might find this an easy rescue.

Break the Window. You could take the situation into your own hands and break a car window. Yes, maybe that is the right thing to do, but you can be liable for fines and damages. One person I asked did this. The judge dropped the charges in exchange for her paying a $300 fee. Not all judges will be so kind, and the car owner might seek damages. Think carefully before you choose this option. The woman who did this and paid the fine said, “but I’d do it again.”

Don’t Call 911. Calling 9-1-1 is for life-threatening, emergency situations. Granted, this is a serious situation, but it isn’t a burning building.

Call Dispatch. You should call emergency dispatch for your area. My husband is active in our neighborhood watch. He has encouraged me to memorize the dispatch number. It’s written next to every phone in my house.

The police will come. If they find the owner of the car, they will give a citation for animal cruelty. If they don’t find the owner of the car, they will break the car window AND give a citation. The police officer in the conversation yesterday said that he has broken many windows in this situation.

What happened yesterday? My friend called dispatch after getting advice from an off-duty police officer through his post. He waited until the police arrived. The car owner arrived about a minute after the police, so there were no broken windows. The owner got two citations for animal cruelty, fines of hundreds of dollars, and will have a court appearance coming up.

Don’t walk by a dog in a car. If you are suffering in the heat outside, you know the dog is suffering in much worse inside. You can save that dog by calling dispatch.

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