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Readers Respond: A parked car can be a deathtrap on a warm day

Responses: 43


It might be easy to look the other way. Stay out of other people's business. The owner must be coming right back to the dog in the car, right? Maybe not. Just how hot is it in there? Studies have shown that even on a "cool" day of 82F, the temperature can reach 109F inside a closed car in minutes.

Each year, animals die in cars. If you saw an animal left unattended in a car, would you call for assistance? Have you helped animals in this way before? Viewers say yes - they have helped.

Please post your experiences and tips here then print out flyers and posters to help spread the word. You may save a life.

No need

Leave your pet at home or prepare to have people address the situation. Today the weather was 80 degrees. I left my daughter in the car while I took out her stroller and the temperature in the car was already far too hot. This was after having the air on blast. I leave the grocery store and see a dog in a van, windows barely cracked, parked in the sun. I waited around until the owner came out because someone said they'd rather be talked to them have the police called on them. This guy was in my face in seconds. I just wanted to relay the stroller story and thus explain why I was concerned for the dog. Next time I'll just break your window, call the cops, and go about my business.
—Guest Me

Back Off

I appreciate those animal lovers looking out for the safety of dogs everywhere but do not jump to conclusions. Just because you walk into a parking lot and see a dog in a car on an 80 or 90 degree day does not mean that the owner has been gone for hours. I love my dogs and recently was called over the intercom of a grocery store for leaving my dogs in the car. I literally had been away from my car for 5 minutes and was checking out. People need to calm down. If you suspect a distressed dog, hangout for about 5 to 10 mins. See if the owners come back. Don't just immediately assume that the dog has been in the car for hours. Furthermore, I think many have lost sight that dogs are animals. They have not always had humans caring for them. What did the dogs do prior to having the luxury of air conditioning.
—Guest DogsAreAnimals


In Texas, it IS against the law to leave your pet inside a car with no a/c on when their is a certain heat index. CHECK THE HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE!! I get called often and make EVERY call. I have a laser thermometer and make several readings before I go into the store and start talking very loudly "who owns such and such vehicle". I have a zero tolerance and take this very seriously. Besides the tongue lashing you WILL get a citation and go see the judge! The fine is steep enough where you won't do it again. Thank god for people that care enough to report it to the authorities. These poor animals can't speak but I can and do!!! Please speak up when you see this and don't be embarrassed. It could be life or death for that poor animal that brings these ignorant people happiness!!!
—Guest Animal Control Officer

Help, but CYA

If the dog appeared to be in distress, I'd go to the nearest payphone (NOT use a cellphone), call the police, say I was breaking the window, do so, and leave.
—Guest nitroglycol

Serious just calm down

I was in Long Beach washington. It was 55 degrees out. We just got done running on the beach and the dogs just had water. I went to one of the gift shops in town for maybe 20 min and the windows were down a bit. Some crazy lady called the cops. It was not even close enough to be too hot for the dogs. The store worker and the cop both told me that it was silly the police were called. I got no ticket and no summons. In fact I was told by the police officer sorry I had to come out because I was called. I felt bad for him. He had so much better things to do. All that happened is I got a good laugh. The woman who called the police just wasted everyone's time. I am a huge animal lover. People need to calm down. I understand the concern but really? 55 degrees out and you call the police? Commen sence is seriously missing in far too many people today. I really hope that woman felt as stupid and silly and she made herself look. I don't know what is wrong with people today.
—Guest Dog lover

Don't jump to overreacting

My dog goes everywhere with me, every day. To work, home, gas stations, stores, friends houses, family houses. After driving for 20 minutes with my A/C on full blast I stopped at the grocery store a few blocks from my house to run in and get exactly 3 items. Since it was freezing cold in my car, and having open windows would let in the warm, humid air quite quickly, I left the windows up to keep the cold in. When I came out, a man started yelling at me about leaving my dog in the car. I said I'd only been in there a few minutes, he argued that he'd been watching my car for "10-15 minutes", insulting me, saying he felt sorry for my dog and my intelligence. I believe he tried to call the cops and took my license plate number. After deducing the time when I got back to the car versus the time I got there, I can say that I was away from the vehicle for 7 minutes, and a cold can of soda in my car didn't have any condensation. My dog was great. Don't assume we are all animal abusers please.
—Guest Mary

dogs dont sweat

Any temperature w/ dog in car with windows down/orcracked can cause a dog to go into distress, panting not due to stress from being away from owner, maybe that too, but due to their inability to sweat and handle the increasing heat even with windows cracked or down a little. They get heart conditions. I wish I was exaggerating. The temperature goes up in the car, trunk even with windows cracked in 9 minutes 10 degrees. You don't have to believe me and there are people out there who will make up stories to try to get their point across. I wouldn't do that. An instrument, kid, and dog - in a car period not a good idea. I had a violin in a trunk for a few minutes in 58-60 degree weather with windows cracked and the violin was hot when I came back and strings were loosened. I left my violin my car with same condition and windows cracked and a string broke in 15 minutes. Haven't tried with dog/kid, a trained police officer on cool day cracked windows/for short time, dog died, true stoy
—Guest barb


You would leave your dog in a car, even for 5 minutes, even with the AC blasting? How about your child? Would you do that?! Don't you DARE say they are different, because they aren't. Animals are living beings with feelings just like ours. How about you sit in a hot car alone for 5 minutes, see how you like it. If you wouldn't leave your child in there, don't leave your animal.
—Guest Psims

Police response was sad

i paged a car owner for a dog in a vehicle with windows cracked and he claims water inside, temp outside was in 80s, car is full sun for 20 minutes that I was aware of. the owner eventually did respond to page and it was not pleasant. I called police and he said it was ok, no harm was done to the pet as long as windows were cracked. I showed him the data on email search contradicting, to no avail. The owner of the dog was quite satisfied with himself and this dog will be subjected to this again and again by the owners admission, just as in the past. Wasted my time.

Scared Mum

You may feel that you are doing the right thing for your dogs by leaving them in a crate with the air conditioner running, water, etc. Have you ever considered that your vehicle or air conditioner malfunctions? This very thing happened to a police officer one summer day a few years ago. He left is car running with his dog inside his car. He went on a lunch break only to return to his vehicle to his dead dog. His air conditioner malfunctioned. There is no resposible way to leave your pet unattended in a vehicle in the summer. Leave your pet at home if you can't take it with you when you leave your vehicle. It's that simple people!!
—Guest Kelley

Responsible pet owner

I leave my dogs in my diesel truck in a crate with food and water and the air conditioner on, but I still have people who act like I am trying to kill my dogs. My dogs have the crate to protect them from accidentally turning off the truck or knocking it in gear, they have food and water so that they don't get dehydrated or hungry, and they have the air conditioning going to keep them from overheating. So, when I travel, should I board them with someone they don't know and let them stress out while I am out of town, or do what I do with them in the vehicle and they get to enjoy a trip with me? Unless someone can prove that I am endangering my dogs, no state can charge me for leaving my dogs unattended in my truck. The idiots in the world make it harder on those of us who actually have the brains and care to make sure our dogs are safe.
—Guest scared mom

Call the Police

I have 2x called our local police to report dogs in hot cars. The first time (80°, 1 window down, full sun, 15+ min), the owner returned to the car before the police got there. I had written down the license plate # and gave it to the officer. I asked him if they take this seriously and if I should call them again if I see another similar situation. He said they definitely care and in fact, he was going to look up this guy's address and head on over there to give him a lecture. The second time I called (75°, windows cracked, full sun, 10+ min) the officer showed up immediately and went to several stores looking for the owner. She eventually found him and hurried him out to his car to get the dog out. She was not happy with him at all and in fact spent about 30 minutes discussing the problem with him. You should NEVER be afraid that you're overreacting by calling the police. You will not get in trouble for it. It is more important to be sure that dog is safe than to save your own pride.
—Guest Kristy

Too hot for your dog??

Today I was very upset. After shopping at Walmart-walking out to my car I heard a dog barking. It was over 100 degrees today. I went to the car and saw a small puppy on the floor of a junky car. I ran to the soda machine and got a bottle of water. When I got back to the car a young man (Walmart worker) had opened the car and took the dog out of the car. I then took him from the young man and gave him water and was sprinkling some on the puppy. I do not know how long he had been left alone in the car but I do know that I stayed outside holding him for 30 minutes until the owner came out of the store. Her reply "Excuse me- give me back my dog." My reply "You're lucky you still have a dog and he isn't dead!" We exchanged some other words I wont go into and I left. I wish I would've called the police but I was really worried about getting the dog water and making sure he was ok. 20+ people reported the dog in the car to the Walmart supervisor prior to me- I hope I made some impact.

please people it's hot out there

I seem to call 911 every year,yesterday topped it tho. I was at pet supermarket waiting outside in my truck for my son.noticed car 2 over from me, was there before me, and i was already there for 5 minutes, had two small dogs inside a hot car with the windows rolled up with just an inch left open. i mean this is pet supermarket, you can bring your dogs inside. well i went into the store and confronted the girl and i was told to mind my own business and her dogs were fine, i told her they were not fine and she needed to go get them, again mind my own business. i went to the front of the store and told the manager who, this is the unbelievable part says to me, i cannot call the police. so i called the police, along with someone else. this girl says i will wait for the police inside you can watch the dogs, which i did, to keep a monitor on there condition. i live in naples florida, and yesterday it was around 96 with a heat index of 101. thank god they survived,but i was ready to break a window.

Over reaction

One Sunday morning, I went to breakfast, I had all four of my dogs. It was 69 degrees, I had all for windows cracked two inch, and my sunroof was all the way open, and I was parted in the shade. Someone called to police and a policeman and a Humane Shelter worker came into the restaurant looking for me. Nothing happened, but it was embarrassing, the human shelter worker said they had to answer all calls. The thermometer I keep in my truck said 69 degrees as well.
—Guest Don

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