Heat Wave

Posted by Pamela Hart, Director of ALDF's Animal Law Program on June 8, 2011

As temperatures sky-rocket all over the country, we are seeing more and more headlines about dogs left in parked cars. Just yesterday, I read about a distressed shepherd mix that was helped by police when they noticed the dog had been left in a vehicle for more than 15 minutes. The officers opened the car doors and monitored the dog until the owner arrived. The car was more than 100 degrees inside when the police opened the doors. The owner was ticketed, as it is illegal to leave a dog in a car for more than 15 minutes in this particular state (Wisconsin).

Dogs in parked cars are at extreme risk in hot weather; an enclosed car heats up in minutes, and the heat can kill the dog. When the temperatures are high, automobiles heat up fast and parking in the shade or cracking the windows will not necessarily keep a companion animal protected from the heat.

On a warm day, the temperature in a parked car can reach 160 degrees in a matter of minutes, even with partially opened windows. With only hot air to breathe, a companion animal can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke. Depending on what state you live in, owners can be punished for leaving a dog in a car, under anti-cruelty statutes or laws that specifically forbid leaving a dog in a parked vehicle without adequate ventilation.

ALDF’s Criminal Justice Program has compiled a list of things you can do in your community to protect dogs from becoming “hot car” victims:

  1. Discover which state laws and city/county ordinances in your
    jurisdiction address leaving animals unattended in vehicles. This issue
    may be addressed specifically or by way of general abuse/neglect
    statutes (for example, from Oregon: ORS 167.325).
    Find your state’s current animal protection laws (doing a word search for “vehicle” is helpful)

  2. Help your county and your local humane agencies to make the
    public aware of these laws by distributing flyers, asking your local
    newspapers to do a story on the problem, and encouraging your Department
    of Motor Vehicles to educate drivers on the issue of children and
    animals left unattended in vehicles.
    Find “Hot Car” literature and other resources
    Find your local animal protection organizations
    Find your local newspapers
    Find your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles

  3. Let your local authorities know that ALDF’s Criminal Justice Program attorneys offer training and resources to law enforcement agents on this and other animal law issues.
  4. Where necessary, approach your legislators toward specifically addressing the “hot car” problem and enabling emergency rescues.
    Find your local legislators
    Work with your legislators toward improving animal protection laws
    Get Political for Animals and Win the Laws They Need by Julie Lewin

3 thoughts on “Heat Wave

  1. Ellyn says:

    I’m stunned that this is still an issue and that people don’t know not to leave animals in a hot car. It makes me despair. I just found your site today and I’ll be back as animal rights is very important to me. Thank you for the work you do, Ellyn Deuink

  2. Linda says:

    Leave your pet at home. In hot weather cars heat up like a fire pit. How inhumane can you be??? Stupid people.

  3. Rami says:

    You are so right, people can be stupid. If my husband stops to get gas, he ALWAYS takes the keys leaving the windows rolled up. I’m left behind to suffocate! (we live in southern AZ where it gets HOT). He is a kind, intelligent man so it’s a puzzle. Fortunately, I can speak up for myself (and do).

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