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Legal Ways to Save Pets Left in Hot Cars

Maddieby: Carol Bryant

Legally, what can a human being do if a pet is left behind
in a hot car? These are the thoughts that keep me awake at night, and I am not

In light of Pet Safety Month being the focus here at
BlogPaws throughout July, this topic lends itself well to today’s current
times.  No matter where you are located,
at some point, there will be a hot day and that hot day will lead to, without a
dog, pets being left behind in unsafe environments: a vehicle.

“Young dogs trapped in hot car with no water for at
least 8 hours”

“Owners warned over dogs left in hot vehicles”

The headlines are blaring, yet it happens over and over. I’ve
even recently seen a wonderful post from a fellow pet blogger about what
it’s really like for a dog to be left in a hot car.
Not good, friends….not
good.  We’re talking fatal….and fast.

So what can you and I do legally if we see a dog in a hot
car? Read on…

At a Canadian Walmart recently, a situation involving a dog
left behind on a hot day in a car made international headlines. Why?

The employee was fired for politely telling the customer it
wasn’t a good idea. When reported to her manager, she was promptly fired.
Lovely. Just lovely. You can read the whole story here.

So what can we do without fear of repercussions? Speak up
and act within the guidelines of the law, yes.


Looking Back

A family member reminded me of an act I engaged in as part
of my pre-blogging days. About 15 years ago, I saw a dog in distress in a parking
lot at a retail store. I reported it to the service desk, where an announcement
was promptly made.  Would the owner of a
red Nissan Saturn come to the service desk, blah blah blah.”

Said person never came forward. I went back outside, got my
water bottle and started giving the dog water through the 2-inch area of
breathing room the driver called a rolled down window.

The dog feverishly lapped up the water. I panicked and went
back inside. Again another announcement. Nothing. I called police and they were
going to try and enter the vehicle with whatever it is police used to unlock a
door 15 years ago. The owner surfaced. The officer told her how wrong it was
but not before she told me where I could go bleep myself.

Some people will never learn and this was completely normal
to her. It isn’t normal to me or to the millions who feel the same way. Here’s
what you can do, from a legal perspective:

Letter of the Law

In 14 states it is illegal to leave a dog behind in a car.
YAY for these 14 states that include New Jersey, Minnesota, Maine, Illinois,
California, Arizona, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, North Dakota, New
York, West Virginia, and Vermont.

The Animal Legal and Historical Center has a complete table
of state
laws and what it all means here
as it applies to pets in parked cars.
Personally I don’t leave the scene until the situation has been resolved. This
much I know is true.

Legally though, did you know that right now, for example, in
North Carolina, “state law doesn't clearly allow or disallow first responders
or emergency personnel from breaking into a vehicle to rescue an animal in
distress. Some localities have passed ordinances to that effect, but she said
responders in other places aren't sure what legal authority they have in such a
situation.” The House approved
a bill recently to save dogs left behind in hot cars.

Here is what you can and should do legally:

First: Try to Locate the Pet Parent
Do as I did, enter the store and ask for an announcement to be made.

Second: Politely Inform
Nicely inform the pet parent of the dangers and keep flyers on hand (I have
them in my glove compartment at all times).

Third: Call 911

With 14 states having laws on the books, you 14 are in luck. Other states and
counties are on a case-by-case basis but it may constitute cruelty.

Without a doubt, do something. I have even seen ferrets in cars on a hot
day. This applies to all animals.

We invite you to take part in our BlogPaws pet safety blog hop and/or photo
to educate people as well as win some pet safety prizes for you.

Pets in Hot Cars Flyer: http://images.akc.org/pdf/GDFLY1.pdf

Bp3Did you ever encounter a pet in a hot car? What did you do? BlogPaws wants to know…

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  1. I haven’t encountered a pet left in a hot car, but I once met up with my sister just after she finished reading a woman the riot act for leaving a puppy in her car on a hot day. I wish I’d been there to see it.

  2. Indiana does not have a law for it to be illegal to leave a dog in the dog. What and how can I get the law in Indiana????
    I have gone in a store and had them paged before and waited and if they did not come after the second page I have called the police. Is there a law that they can be fined big time for leaving their dog in a car? If not they should fine the owner!

  3. You are welcome, Sharon. It is so sad that all states do not have laws. Just keep speaking up, informing lawmakers, writing to your state representatives, and helping these innocent lives. Something has got to change.

  4. This happened one Sunday morning at the humane society (yes you read that right) where I was volunteering at the time. There was an AA meeting being held and one of the dog walkers came in to tell us there was a dog in a car outside. I checked and the windows were down but it was already over 80 degrees at 10am. So I grabbed a humane officer who wasn’t out on the road yet – she pulled the dog out of the car (in addition to leaving the dog in the car, the windows were down far enough that the dog could have gotten out). We got her name from her name badge for work left in the car. At the end of the meeting, I asked for so-and-so to please come over and then left her to be lectured by the humane officer. We had to return the dog, but the AA leader made an announcement about NO bringing dogs to the meetings.
    On that note, please don’t break my windows – there is a cat carrier in my back seat….there is no cat in it – I keep the carrier in the car for those “just in case” moments. 🙂

  5. WOW that is scary about the dog being left in the car. For the cat carrier, I can see how someone could mistake that for a cat being in it. I wonder if it might help to put the carrier in the trunk? Or a cover over it when out of the car just to prevent any incidents?
    Thanks for the feedback, Random Felines.

  6. There are many posts with pictures that explain the dangers but there was one that specifically tells what is happening in the dogs body–the organs shutting down and finally liquifying—I want to find that post and make fliers–does anyone have it
    Kathy Rainbow Woosley

  7. I was on my way into CVS and spotted a dog in the back seat of a car I walked by. I first made a call to our local ER clinic and reported it – they said to call them right back if I couldn’t find the owner. It was an extremely hot day and the dog was obviously in distress. I ran into CVS and yelled ‘someone left their dog in the car’ – when nothing happened I asked the guy at the checkout to announce it over the intercom which he did. A woman came forward – I spoke harshly to her and she said she was ‘only in there a few minutes’. I was so upset! I am not above breaking a window out of a car if it saves a child’s life or an animals.

  8. Recently there was a Shepard left in a Lexus minivan in the handicapped parking at Costco. I called 911- they were going to give me their nonemergency # explained it was an emergency when I got to report it they asked if it was a Shepard and it had been reported and an officer was dispatched. when we saw a man scooter with a big bag of dog food. A crowd converged on him- one of the men who call 911 was a vet and he was livid- The man told everyone to f off- the police then arrived and kept his car from pulling out. The officer was with him for a while. The dog was in the car for at least 20 minutes. The cop did appear to give him something

  9. So upsetting to see this happening. I saw 2 dogs in a car in the hot sun and they had been there for quite some time. It was at a shopping mall car park and I waited around for an hour for the owner to turn up. No one surfaced so I called mall security and they couldn’t do anything. I ended up calling the RSPCA and they were quite upset, but unfortunately they legally couldn’t do anything either. There needs to be laws in place to protect this from happening.

  10. I have and I confronted the owner, she was extremely disrespectful and said the dog was fine. So I called the police. And they came which was wonderful.

  11. I work at a retail store and a customer came in to tell us that a dog was left in a car with windows down 4 inches. I just happened to be on lunch so I went to check it out. I had announcments made…..no one came. so after 30 min I called police and gave them info on the car. 20 min later police arrive and check temp in car. dog is panting and in distress. they tell me to go have the owner paged. when I get in the store he is at service desk with a cart full of merchandise. I tell him to get out to his car NOW. he just stared at me until I told him the police were there. he was from Bedford, Indiana and I hope he got a ticket

  12. I remember seeing a little dog in a hot car way back when before I was a blogger. It was about 80 out and the poor little thing was whining and scratching at the window. The dog breeding friend I was with was livid. The restaurant we were eating at had a big front window that looked right out to that car. My friend could hardly eat her lunch! I didn’t quite understand the dangers then (although I never left my dog in a car when it’s that hot out). Now I understand though and how passionate people are about the issue.

  13. Before some of the people jump on the bandwagon to call for a law that doesn’t allow dogs in the car, consider the consequences.
    It is illegal to leave a child in a car I think in most of the states, but kids are allowed pretty much anywhere, dogs are not. If someone travels with the dog and need to stop at the rest stop and go to a bathroom, they will not be able to do it legally even if the temps are 40F and the dog is pretty comfy inside.

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