What to Do When You Spot a Pet in a Hot Car!

Dog in Hot OvenRayne Nolte was in the parking lot of a Mankato, Minnesota, mall last week when she spotted Roxie, a Yorkie mix, trapped in a car. The temperature was 88 degrees with a heat index of 103, and the car’s owner was gone.

You may have found yourself in Rayne’s situation before. Many pet parents believe that cracking a window is enough to keep their dogs cool in the car while they make a quick pit stop—but they couldn’t be more wrong. “Automobile temperatures can very quickly rise to dangerous levels; the average temperature increase in a parked car is 40 degrees, and the majority of this increase occurs in the first 15 to 30 minutes,” says Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. When it’s 80 degrees outside, your car will be a staggering 114 degrees after 30 minutes!

Worse still, dogs can’t cool themselves down as easily as people, and once they overheat, they can suffer extensive organ damage or die. Luckily, Rayne made all the right moves. Follow her lead by taking these simple steps.

Step 1: Try to Locate the Pet Parent
Roxie’s people were nowhere in sight, so Rayne called mall security, who tried to find Roxie’s family through the loudspeaker. (You can ask most stores to do this.)

Step 2: Educate
Rayne couldn’t find Roxie’s pet parents, but if you do, explain the dangers of leaving a pet in a hot car. Make sure the pet gets out of the car as soon as possible.

Step 3: Call 911
Thirty One states have enacted specific laws that protect dogs in hot cars, as have many municipalities—but even in places lacking such a law, leaving an animal in a hot car may constitute cruelty.  Recently, about 15 states have enacted laws that allow any person to rescue a distressed animal (AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, IN, KS, LA, MA, OH, OR, TN, VT, and WI). 

Rayne and the mall security officers dialed 911. When the police pulled Roxie from the steamy vehicle, she was very ill but soon on the road to recovery.

Step 4: Pat Yourself on the Back
Pets are counting on people like you to save their lives. Rayne rescued Roxie just in time, and she made a full recovery! And according to the Mankato Free Press, the pet-sitter who left Roxie in the car was charged with a petty misdemeanor.

For more ways to help animals beat the heat, please visit ASPCA’s Pet Care pages.

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2 Responses

  1. Beverly B. says:

    I did see 2 women locking up their car and going into a store.
    I looked in the car as I was leaving.
    I don’t know why
    Maybe I was just being nosey
    I was shocked when I saw a small puppy crouched down on the floor of the front seat.
    I was beside myself with grief
    I quickly went into the store where the 2 ladies were shopping
    I went over to them and said I can’t believe you left your puppy in the hot car it could be dead and it only takes a short time before it will die and if you don’t go right out side and leave I am calling the police
    They came out and left

  2. carla brown says:

    I had called by-law one day when I noticed this guy leaving his dog in the car (in the shade) but on one of the hottest days of the summer last year while he went to have a coffee in an a/c restaurant.
    I previously warned him and he called me some foul names a.w.a. saying I should mind my own business.
    So I got his license plate # and bylaw only fined him but haven’t seen him since (we live in a small community).
    Altho I didn’t make a friend with the human, I’m sure his dog appreciated the effort. And that is good enough for me.

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