As the summer temperatures spike, it's time for dog owners and dog lovers alike to confront some of the dangers of heat for our canine friends. One of the most dangerous—but sadly still frequent—summertime problem that can arise is when dogs are left alone in hot cars. All too often a dog owner will leave their dog in a parking lot while the temperature of their car goes up to potentially fatal levels.
When to Intervene With Dogs in Hot Cars
The question on many individuals' minds is: when and how should I intervene if I see a dog left in a hot car this summer? What can you legally do to advocate for these pets? The Animal Legal Defense Fund wrote a fantastic article about this very topic that we'll synthesize here for you. The steps you should take if you see a dog—or any animal for that matter—left in a hot car are:
Call 911: First responders are generally allowed to break into hot cars to perform life-saving actions for animals and people. Your first action if you fear for a pet's safety should be calling your local authorities.
Know what your state requires: Your state laws may have specific mention of hot car situations. Meridian Deputy Police Chief Tracy Basterrechea says even though Merdian doesn't have a specific ordinance on it, his officers have the authority to break into a car to rescue an overheated animal. Basterrachea says whether they find the owner first or break the window, Meridian police will cite people for animal cruelty for leaving dogs in hot cars. He says state law gives them the power to break into the vehicles. The Idaho State Police agree that Idaho’s animal cruelty laws give police authority to break into cars to save pets. Sadly, in a few states, law enforcement officers are not authorized to break into a car to save a pet's life.
“Any law enforcement officer or animal care and control officer……may take possession of the animal cruelly treated, and provide care for the same…” – Idaho Statute 25-3504
Make an announcement over the loudspeaker: If you don't think that the dog's life is in immediate danger, and you're at a grocery store or elsewhere with a PA system, ask a clerk to announce that a pet has been left unattended. This could be a wake-up call that will prevent the owner from endangering their pet in the future.