I think we can all agree that our main priority is keeping children safe and finding ways to eliminate hot car deaths that occur at a rate of 2–3 deaths per week during summer months.
Another area of concern though? People’s canine family members. They can’t handle the heat, and hot cars pose an immediate risk to their health and safety.
A few years ago, I took my kids to the movies because it was 90 degrees, and we were all sunned-out after spending the day before at the beach, and we wanted to be in the air conditioning. While pulling up to the theater, I spotted two golden retrievers in a car with the windows cracked. They were parked in the shade, but those two big, hairy dogs were panicking.
They were panting, and whining, and clawing to get out. I stood and watched them try with all their might to push their faces through the window crack, so they could catch some fresh air.
Watching those two dogs struggle was not only heartbreaking, it was also infuriating.
You bet your ass I immediately dialed the police as I flagged down mall security. I had my son head into the theater to alert the person behind the counter as well. I wanted to make sure we had all bases covered to get these poor dogs some air as soon as freaking possible. I was this close to finding a rock and slamming it into that car window, and I would have done that without a single regret.
In 26 states, it is either illegal to leave your animal in a parked car, or a person is legally protected if they bust a window to save an animal from a hot car.
Even if the state doesn’t have a law specifically stating that an animal can’t be left in a car on a warm day, it is considered animal cruelty and the owner can be arrested/charged.
Those dogs were saved by the police, but unfortunately, I have called the police nearly a dozen more times since that day for this very same reason.
Stop leaving your dogs in hot cars, folks. Don’t be stupid.
I know some may think they are fine, and maybe they are for the first two minutes until all the cool air is zapped, but after that their incessant panting tells a different story. I literally think people forget animals are covered in fur. How would you like to be bundled up in a snowsuit and sit in a hot vehicle with a cracked window being your only means of fresh air?
It sounds like hell, right? That’s because it is.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), hundreds of animals die each year from being left in a hot car. And this always happens when people think it’s not hot enough to do any damage, or they will just be a minute, so their animal will be fine. But they aren’t fine. They become very ill very quickly, and they lose their lives from something that is entirely preventable.
If you’re not going somewhere that you can take your dog, then leave the dog at home. Period.
In fact, AVMA says, “The temperature inside your vehicle can rise almost 20ºF in just 10 minutes. In 20 minutes, it can rise almost 30ºF, and the longer you wait, the higher it goes. At 60 minutes, the temperature in your vehicle can be more than 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature. Even on a 70-degree day, that’s 110 degrees inside your vehicle!”
So when we think a comfortable 70 degrees feels perfect to us and that our pets will be comfortable and safe in the car, we should think again. It is easy to lose track of time while shopping and running errands, and cracking those windows makes no difference.
Please, dress your pet up, stuff them in your tote bag, splash their mugs all over Facebook and Instagram. Buy them special treats, get them groomed, paint their nails, and perform wedding ceremonies for them, but don’t leave them in your hot car ever — not even for a quick errand.
Leave them at home where they can lie comfortably in their bed and have access to as much water and trash television (What? Is that just my dog?) as they want. This ensures they will be safe, and you can enjoy their love for that much longer.