Skip to main content

See also:

Dogs in hot cars

It is reasonable to believe that there are no earthlings left who do not know that a car is at least 30 degrees warmer on the inside than ambient temperatures on warm days but some people still behave as if they don't know it.

If you have a dog you travel with :

  • Teach your dog to accept strangers hanging around your car in advance.
  • Keep visible ID on your dog.
  • Plan any stops to revolve around the dog and the consider the weather.
  • In an emergency, leave a note on the windshield that lets anyone concerned know where you have gone. If you are brave, include your cell phone number. (Carry an emergency charger for your phone)
  • Know the animal control regulations in the areas you frequent. Where is the shelter if your dog escapes or is taken from your car? Where the all night vet hospitals along your regular routes? Many states require Rabies vaccination paperwork and if you cross state lines, you need a health certificate.
  • Consider getting the AmimAlarm from Critter Cozy. It monitors the temperature of your car and calls your cell phone in an emergency. At least get BreezeGuard screens so that the windows can be open and no one can reach inside your car.
  • Consider, seriously consider, leaving your dog at home when it's warm out if you are going to stop anywhere along the way.

If you see a dog in a car on a warm day check yourself:

  • It is not illegal to leave a dog in a car. It IS illegal to endanger a dog by leaving him in a car that is LEGALLY different.
  • It is illegal to break into a car that you don't own. Sure, you can tell the judge you had to so save a dog. If you have a receipt from the vet who treated the overheated dog, you may get reduced jail time because while it's still a crime, you had a good reason to be a criminal.
  • If the dog is in distress-- Clawing frantically at the slightest opening or worse, listless and semi conscious you'll need to take action quickly. If she's just barking at you, back off. You are making her exercise which generates heat, fear, and stress--all things you would not want a dog in a car to experience.
  • CALL the police. Note the time, the license plate of the car, make and model. Go in shops nearby and ask if owner of said car can be paged. The owner will get there faster than most officers can.
  • While you wait: find out where the nearest vet is. Call and ask if they can see a potential dog from a hot car. Tell an officer who arrives that you have that information if he needs it.
  • When owner or officer arrives, note the time again. Has the dog's condition changed? Give the owner the information about the available vet. Give the officer information about the times.
  • If the dog is not in distress, it is truly possible that the dog is used to traveling with an owner and the owner is diligent about watching the clock if the dog is ever alone in the car. The car may be a hybrid that can run AC while parked. It's possible the owner had a heart attack and was taken from the store by ambulance 20 minutes ago. It's possible the dog is stolen, or with a relative who knows nothing about dogs and stopped to get some kibble to pet sit for the weekend. It's possible the owner is a complete idiot who has no idea what she's doing. In every instance, it's a good thing you noticed the dog in the car.....Train yourself to think like a cruelty investigator. You don't know anything until you know.

There are police, therapy and search and rescue dogs that must travel by car in all kinds of weather just as their handlers do. They are accustomed to this and their owners have policies in place to ensure their trained partners' safety. There are farm dogs who work in weather extremes, just as their farmers do. There are emergencies. If you truly value dogs, you know they are capable of much more than people generally expect. So before you intervene, "ask" the dog if he or she needs your help. It's quite possible the answer is yes. And now you'll know what to do when that's the case.