How to Rescue Pets from a Hot Car

When the weather warms up, leaving your pet in the car becomes a huge risk.  But not all pet parents realize this. So, what should you do if you find a pet that’s been left in the car on a hot day? Read this article to find out.

The Dangers of Leaving Pets in the Car

It doesn’t take long for a parked car to warm up.  For example, on a 70-degree day, the inside of a car can easily reach 89 degrees in 10 minutes.    

The American Kennel Club says that in 20 minutes that temperature could climb to 100 degrees.  And that’s when the outdoor temperature is only 70 degrees.  Imagine how warm the car can get on a super-hot day. 

Subjecting pets to these high temperatures can lead to heatstroke, which may ultimately result in death.  Clearly, leaving your pet in the car isn’t worth the risk!

Some owners think that slightly opening the windows will keep the car cooler.  But according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, a “study…found that cracking the windows had very little effect on the temperature rise inside the vehicle.”

So, leaving the windows slightly open doesn’t really help.    

What to Do if You See a Pet in a Car

At this point, you are probably convinced that keeping your pet at home is much safer than leaving your furry friend in the car.  But that doesn’t mean other pet parents have come to this conclusion.

That means you may come across pets that have been left in hot cars.  If that happens, what should you do? 

Follow these steps:

  1. Write down the Car’s Make, Model, and License Plate Number.

2. Find someone to stay near the car with the animal while you go into nearby businesses. 

3. Ask the manager of each business to give an announcement.  Hopefully, the pet owner will hear this announcement and come forward.  If you can’t find the owner, it’s time to call your local authorities.  This could be the Police or Animal Control. 

4. Stay with the animal until the issue is resolved. 

5. Once the animal has been rescued from the car, immediately take the pet into air conditioning and provide cool water.  Make sure the water isn’t too cold.       

6. It’s important to have someone stay near the vehicle the entire time. This person needs to keep an eye on the animal and look for signs of heatstroke. If the animal begins to exhibit those signs, urgent action may be required. 

Here are the Signs to Look out for:

  • Heavy panting
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Dark tongue
  • Restlessness
  •  Increased heart rate 
  • Drooling
  • Mild weakness 
  • Stupor 
  • Collapse
  • Seizures
  • Bloody Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

The Law

If you notice these signs before the authorities or pet owner shows up, you may need to step in.  But first, make sure you are aware of your state’s specific laws. 

Some states allow good Samaritans to enter the car and save an animal that is suffering from heatstroke.    Each state’s law has its own specifications and steps that must be followed.  Following those steps will protect you from civil or criminal liabilities.  In some states, only the authorities have the legal right to break into the car and remove the pet.

However, if the animal appears to be in danger of death, you may feel the need to break in without the authorities.  If you choose to take this action, be sure you have several witnesses who can support you.  

In Florida, it is legal to break into a car  to rescue a person or a pet who is “in imminent danger of suffering harm.”

Other Ways to Help

You don’t have to wait until you find a poor pet trapped in a hot car to do your part.  You can fight to keep animals safe right now!  Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Change the Law in Your State

Do you live in a state that doesn’t allow good Samaritans to rescue animals from hot cars?  If so, consider starting a campaign to enact a new law.  This would make it possible for ordinary people to save animals that are in grave danger. 

Spread the Word

Some owners underestimate the risk of leaving pets in a hot car.  That’s why we need to educate them.  The more people become aware of this risk, the fewer animals will die of heatstroke. 

In Conclusion

Hot cars and pets just don’t mix.  In fact, that combo is downright dangerous.  With that in mind, it’s often best to leave your pet at home.  Sadly, not all pet parents realize this.  So, if you see a pet that’s been left in a car, take the appropriate actions to rescue that animal.  You might save a life. 

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