Dog in a locked hot car, what do you do?

by Nancy Hassel,

In this heat, you find a dog locked in a hot car with the windows down a crack?  What do you do?

It boggles my mind that people still think it is ok to leave their dogs in hot cars.  Now I know some car brands are now equipped with keeping the AC running and a message saying the temperature is at 68 degrees, and the dog is ok.  And there are even devices like Waggle’s Pet Monitor that also keep the pet parents that may have left their car running with the AC on, to alert them of any temperature changes if they run into a store, or at an RV park.

So what do you do if you just parked and spot a dog in a locked car with the windows cracked – but clearly the AC is not running in the car?

  • Call the police, tell them the location, make/model color of the car, and give them the license plate number.
  • If the police can’t respond to the situation, call Animal Control in the town the car is located in. Animal Control is usually associated with the town or city municipal animal shelter.
  • Stay until the authorities arrive to be sure the pet was safely evacuated from the hot car.  In this day and age, be sure to be safe when waiting for the police to arrive so as to not confront the dog owner.
  • Program the Animal Control (Animal shelter) phone numbers to the town and surrounding towns you live in, into your phone contacts so you can access them immediately.   Also, program the nearest 24-hour emergency vet in your phone in case the dog needs veterinary care – you can at least call them and ask what to do.
  • In some states it is legal for you, a private citizen to break the window of the car or take the dog out of the car if it is unlocked.  Be sure to know the law pertaining to this before you take matters into your own hands.  And again, if you see the dog may be aggressive if you can wait until the police or animal control arrive so you don’t get injured.
  • If you’re in a  parking lot and more than likely the dog owners are shopping in the store, while their pet is unnecessarily suffering in the hot car, let the store manager know, and give them the make/model and license plate number so they can call the police if you can’t stay. 

Pet owners should also know if you are caught doing this or someone reports your car with a pet in it to the police, the police have the right to break into to your car with whatever means necessary, call animal control and have your pet seized. You may be issued a summons, arrested for animal cruelty, or more.  So the next time you are running up to the supermarket on a hot day, please, please, please leave your pets at home in the AC!

Sometimes people think it’s ok to run into the store for 5-minutes during the summer and leave their pets in the car.  But what if you get stuck in the store, there is a long line, a problem at the register, etc., and there you are in the air-conditioned store while your pet is sweltering in the heat, causing heat exhaustion or even worse death.  That 5-minute run could easily turn into a lot longer time period putting your pet in danger.

Have you ever experienced having to help a dog left in a hot car and in distress?  Comment and let us know how you handled the situation.  And please share this post so if it saves a few people from leaving their dogs in hot cars, and spreads awareness – it will help dogs stay safe!

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