My human and I saw a panting pup in a parked car. He seemed to be suffering. How can we help a dog trapped in a locked car on a hot day?
Brie the Boxer
Parked cars are deathtraps for dogs. On a 78°F day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to 110°F in just minutes, and on a 90°F day, the temperature can reach 160°F in fewer than 10 minutes. Even on overcast days and with windows cracked, temperatures can still be dangerously high.
Now, there is a new Florida law in place to protect hot dogs in need — House Bill 131: Unattended Persons and Animals in Motor Vehicles.
Recently, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed HB 131 into law, making it legal for a person to break into a locked vehicle to rescue animals (and people) who are in imminent danger.
Under the law, someone who sees a pet — it’s most often a dog — trapped in a hot car may use reasonable force to get the animal out. Good news: Rescuers will not be held liable for any damage to the vehicle due to the recovery. Better news: A life may be saved.
However, the law does not make breaking and entering a free-for-all. There are strict guidelines that must be followed. First, you must check that the vehicle is locked. After determining that, call 911 or non-emergency law enforcement before entering the vehicle or immediately after rescuing the pet. Finally, use no more force than absolutely necessary to break in — and remain with the animal until first responders arrive.
Seriously, folks, there’s never an excuse to leave any animal in a hot car, even if it’s just for a minute. Each minute that passes means increased danger. Dogs cool themselves through panting and sweat only through their paws — they can get overheated and suffer from heatstroke in a matter of minutes. Untreated, a dog can go into cardiac arrest and die.
If you see a dog in distress, look for these heatstroke symptoms: excessive panting, agitation, vomiting, weakness and/or collapse. If you recognize any of these, get the animal out of the heat and seek veterinary care immediately.
Your dog can be good company to have along while you run errands, but the risks far outweigh the fun. Instead of leaving your dog in the car, try these alternatives:
- If there’s a drive-thru available, use it
- Bring a friend to stay with your dog while you’re out of the car
- Shop at pet-friendly stores where dogs are welcome to shop with you
- Eat at an outdoor café where your dog can sit with you
The safest bet? Leave your pet at home, where it’s cool and comfortable — and safe!
For more information about House Bill 131:
Davi the dachshund isn’t a politician, but he does know how to lie (down) and beg.