Help Prevent “Hot Car” Dog FatalitiesPosted by Scott Heiser, Director of ALDF's Criminal Justice Program on April 30, 2010
Asuncion Zapata was arrested on April 3, 2010 and is facing charges
of animal cruelty and animal
endangerment. Zapata allegedly left her dog alone in her parked car –
although police attempted to save the shepherd mix, their efforts
reportedly came too late and the comatose dog was ultimately euthanized.
“Hot car” dog fatalities are needless and
all-too-common. While humans cool themselves by relying on an extensive
system of sweat glands and evaporation, the cooling mechanisms of dogs
and other animals are much less efficient and leave them extremely
vulnerable to heatstroke. Parked automobiles quickly trap the sun’s heat
with interior temperatures rising to dangerous levels in a matter of
minutes, and “cracking the windows”
does not remove the danger of heatstroke. The Los Angeles County
District Attorney’s office launched a public
awareness campaign on this issue last year, education being the key
to lessening the frequency of these cruel and pointless deaths.
What You Can Do
- 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
- 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
your local newspapers
Find your state’s
Department of Motor Vehicles
- 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.
- Where necessary, approach your legislators toward specifically
addressing the “hot car” problem and enabling emergency rescues.
your local legislators
with your legislators toward improving animal protection laws
Get Political for Animals and Win the
Laws They Need by Julie Lewin