Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What Should You Do If You See a Dog Left in a Hot Car?

It's summer again and I hope all readers of my blog know not to leave a dog in a car when it's hot.  Not ever, not only for a few minutes.  When it is only 72 degrees outside, it can reach a temperature of over 100 degrees in a parked car, even in the shade, even with the windows open a crack, in less than half an hour.  And 72 degrees doesn't even feel that hot out, does it?

A dog can have a heat stroke and die when the temperature gets a little over 100 degrees.

So you know better, but what do you do if you see a dog that's been left in a hot car?

Try to locate the owner and, as politely as you can, inform them it's too hot and it's not safe for their dog to be left in the car.  I know, they may not like hearing they've done something wrong.  I know, it's hard to be polite to someone who is endangering their dog.  But try.

If I see a dog in a car in a parking lot at a big store like Walmart or a grocery store, I go to the customer service desk and ask them to please page the owner of the dog over the loud speaker.  I say something like, "There is a dog in a car outside and it's much too hot for that. The dog is in danger. Can you please page the owner and ask them to attend to their dog so I don't have to call animal control?"

If the employee hesitates, I say something like, "If animal controls comes, they will give the owner a ticket and may even take their dog. I'm sure the owner would prefer the chance to take care of their dog themselves. But I'll call animal control if I have to." The employee usually agrees that the owner of the dog would prefer to avoid getting a ticket and having their dog taken by animal control and will page the owner.

If it's a small business, like a restaurant or pharmacy or library or something, you can just stand in the middle and yell something like, "Attention, please! Whoever left a dog outside in a red pickup truck, please come outside. Animal control is on the way because it's too hot to leave a dog in a car."

If you can't find the owner or the business won't page them or the owner won't take care of the dog, you can call animal control. Now, animal control won't always come out for a dog locked in a car. It depends on where you are. And they don't always come in a timely manner. I don't tell that to employees when I am trying to get them to page the owner of a dog, though. I try to sound like I feel certain animal control will come right out. And animal control might or might not give an owner a ticket. They certainly can do that, but they might not always choose to do it. But again, I don't tell that to employees. I try to sound like I am certain that is what will happen if I call animal control.

If you can't find the owner and can't get animal control to come, what should you do? Well, that's really up to you. I'm glad I've never been in that position. Whether or not to take someone's dog out of their car or break a window to get to a dog is a tough decision. Do it and you could be charged with property damage or theft. Plus, what if the dog is not friendly? It could bite you.  But...don't do it and the dog might die. I can't advise you there.


  1. To Kelly and Issac: thank you for your post and personally, (in my humble opinion) not to be judgmental or share a personal thought/experience, I am sorry to say that this is a hot button topic issue/concern you were kind enough to share with your readers. for anyone service dog or not) If one lets his/her service dog or any type of domestic animal/animal or to even further expand upon this topic to include helpless humans (disabled or not) being subject to be left alone in any type of vehicle no matter if its only a minute or less nor depending if the weather season is winter, spring, summer or full, (in my thoughts) classifies as being non caring and possibly ignorant to the well being of the service dog and or other domestic animals/ animals and to extend or humans for that matter. Does not mater to me (again in my humble opinion), in that your above mentioned post as related to summer weather would be applicable to all seasons.
    Shortened scenario/experience, last spring I was with my private duty nurse and we both noticed a dog in a vehicle that had little to no ventilation. Apparently the owner thought (non disabled) the dog would be fine. However, despite the fact it was early in the morning, as the sun was rising (granted the temps were not what might one consider dangerously hot . I tried to reach out to restaurant staff as to acknowledged the dog seemed in distress. The restaurant staff went around to ask every patron if they had a dog in his/her vehicle regarding the distress concerns of the dog/ communications of both myself and my nurse. Well long story short: much to my dismay: the owner (sitting behind my self and private duty nurse) of the dog seemed to have this nonchalant in attitude (non disabled mind you) and this person continued to proceed with their breakfast meal. I ended up immediately calling 911 and reporting the the above mentioned scenario. The person who was so called either the owner and or caretaker of the dog then copped this attitude when the police arrived. It was only then, both my self and nurse informed the police that this dog had been sitting in a vehicle for at least more then 1/2 an hr.
    Foot note: In the state where I reside, this would be defined and considered as animal abuse. Subject to a a fine.
    End note: Both my self and nurse had an opportunity to speak with the local law enforcement that was called to the scene and the person /owner/caretaker immediately left as soon as that person overheard our conversation.

    As Kelly and Issac were kind enough to post their thoughts and concerns regarding this topic. I have to be honest in saying please be pro-active when seeing a animal/domestic animal in a scenario as above mentioned in harm. I think this is an important matter that might be considered open discussion by your other readers.

    1. Whether or not the police will come if you call 911 also depends on where you are, unfortunately. In some places, if you call 911, they will just tell you to call animal control. But certainly calling the police is worth a try.

      And I agree, dogs shouldn't be left in cars in any weather. It's just more dangerous in very hot weather. It's also dangerous in very cold weather.

  2. to: Kelly and Issac
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts/concerns.
    I am sorry to say especially as I get older. ( tho at times I am not proud of) I am sorry to say I have to consciously / subconsciously as to rush in making a decision (with out the facts from both sides of a given scenario). I guess maybe for me ?? The heart, spirit and soul has it's advantages and often times disadvantages ??
    Again, thank you so very very much for sharing. Respectfully one of your readers from your blog site.