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

Responses: 63


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.

How do you help?

The real solution

The real solution is to allow dogs inside shops! I left my mini-fox terrier tied up outside a library in shade and with a water bowl and I was paged because she looked distressed. Of course she looked distressed! She wanted to be inside with me. She would certainly prefer, however, to be walked to where I go than to be left at home all day which would be the only alternative. I would request that people exercise a little bit of common sense about this issue. Dogs are not children! My dog has survived in my care for 13 years so I can't be altogether remiss in my treatment of her. I'm also a little surprised to read that some people routinely break into other people's cars. I would suggest that if you do that and you have misread the situation and the animal is not actually distressed, you could well be breaking the law. You could well face penalties yourself. I would certainly pursue you for damage to my car. The same goes for the person who apparently routinely puts stickers on cars.


I left my dog in a dark parking ramp in maybe 65 degree weather ( not sure the temp but the high was supposed to be 72 today and it's starting to look like it will rain). I left the windows up while I went inside an apartment to drop his friend back home after having just come from the dog park. I get back 5, MAYBE 10 minutes later and a woman said she had called animal control and they would've taken my dog if I hadn't arrived. Her argument was that my dog might suffocate. Really? Have you ever suffocated from taking a nap in your car? She told me not to have a nice day after I told her she should. Real friendly lady.
—Guest Maddy rose

Response to Hmmm...

You claim to always leave the A/C running when your pet is unattended in the car. Ever consider how fast the temperature will change should the A/C fail to operate (engine dies, belt breaks, etc.)?

Read it through, tell me if this is ok.

Ok I had my dog with me on my way to my house in another town, we stopped for lunch or breakfast in my case since I woke up late. We didn't want to leave the dog at the other house alone so we brought him with. When we stopped at the restaurant it was in the low 70s and we lowered all of the windows somewhat even raised the sun-roof vent. I know ya don't know how long someone is gonna be in there, but from what I could tell earlier when I waited with the dog in the car, in conditions exactly as we left him at the restaurant I was fine, not a sweat and no hazard to him what-so ever. He barks cuz he has separation anxiety so Im sure he was getting attention but is he still in danger. Once again, cool temperature almost room temp if I had to guess, windows open partially so as he cant jump out, and no hazards in the car. He is a lil beagle. Am I in the wrong for doing this on such a day. I figured for half an hour, maybe a lil more he would be fine. Im in NJ so legal views r want
—Guest Matt

If the "pro-community" store won't help

then what? Break the law and smash a window?!! I will agree, common sense is a good thing. But people in the parking lot have no clue as to what YOU, the animal owners, are going to be done. We can not read minds. Nor can you. If somebody calls the cops, they do not know if you had just gone in or had been in there for a long time. And they care about the animals. On a 70 degree day, maybe for a few minutes, but I would always use MY OWN COMMON SENSE and not combine trips when the well being of animals is concerned. Maybe if owners did that, fewer people would respond to the point that the folks around here start mewling about "use common sence" and the rest of the cant. There's only so much anyone can do. Most of us want to help, but each person has to do his own part as well. Don't leave animals in a position where people can PERCEIVE potential wrongdoing. Problem solved. Thanks to common sense.

Finding a Dog in a Car

I would immediatley call the cops and wait for them to give the owner a summons. Why do people have to take dogs out on such hot days. Leave them home and comfy.
—Guest Chris

My Call and Mine Alone

If I see a dog other critter locked in a hot car...I'll do as I see fit.
—Guest AnimalRightsNazi


Well, whenever I have my dog with me and I have to leave him in the car, I keep it on with the air conditioner going so he doesn't get hot. The most I've left him in there is 5 minutes tops. I have actually had an older lady walking around my car while it was on and the AC going (like it always is when my dog is in there), waiting to see if she needed to call the cops. I understand the concern if he was being toasted in there, but if you see the dog looking around, not panting and in a car that is on with the AC blasting his face, I think it's safe to assume that the dog isn't in any danger.
—Guest Gen

Breathe before reacting

I understand protecting animals, and would do so myself if I KNEW the animal had been left for an extended period of time, but if I do not see the driver park the vehicle, I do not know how long the animal has been left in the vehicle. As a person responding to a possible animal in distress, you need to stay calm, especially if you are approaching the owner. Do not make accusations of animal cruelty as accusations are very strong and will be met with resistance. If you start yelling and using suggestive language, expect an unpleasant confrontation. Instead seek to educate and offer suggestions. Inform them of the facts and possible outcomes. I did not know that an animal left for ten minutes could suffer irreversible damage until I read it. Seek to help people be better pet owners. Do not assume they should not be allowed to own pets.
—Guest Stay calm

Call the cops

I did that yesterday, the guy was parked of all places in the Parking lot of a PETCO, where they allow you to bring dogs in. He waited for us to go buy then thinking we where not watching slamed the back of the SUV shut and walked into the store. I Called 911, and reported the incident to the Manager of the PETCO. No excuses to leave your dog in the car on a hot day. As for the guy who's dog bites, you are fully responsible for the actions of your dog. If you dog bites Muzzle him, and be aware of where you are and who is around you. Don't put dogs in situations you know they will react badly too.
—Guest DogLover

Common sense

Self righteousness vs Common sense is really full of it I think. Nobody with common sense would leave an animal alone in a car under any circumstances. It's not common sense it's respect for life, be it human or animal. I just had someone paged at the supermarket for leaving two dogs in a car in full sun. Thankfully the dogs were ok but the owners couldn't have cared less.
—Guest Rossrevenge

I'm only going to be a minute . . .

We may only mean to leave the dog in the car for a minute, but s**t happens! We could be mugged, faint, have a heart attack, fall over and break a bone - you just can't be sure! I have a large sign that I put in the windscreen if I have to leave my dog in the car briefly. It says "DOG IN CAR!" and has my cell number and asks people to check the dog and call me or the police if concerned. Even so, it's far better not to risk it.
—Guest Pru

To everyone who says "calm down"

I have seen dogs go into convulsions from heat stroke. Do not tell me to "calm down!" It takes a few minutes for a dog to die. I will not hesitate to call police, break the window, and remove the dog from your possession. Police will do so anyway, but I would rather have an alive dog be taken away than a dead one. Shame on you.
—Guest Oly360

Beware of dog..

My dog doesn't take well to strangers so please don't try and "save" my dog from my car. Just remember not all dogs are friendly. Mine being one of those dogs. I ask people not to touch him when we go for walks and yet people insist "dogs love me" so if my dog snaps at you for touching him after I told you not to. That's nobodies fault expect your own. He travels with us every weekend in the summer and loves the car. We don't leave our dog in the car any longer than one of us would sit in the car on a hot day. If we could bring our dogs into a rest stop with us then we would but they dogs aren't welcome in stores. I do understand if it's hot day, and you see a dog that's been alone in a car, windows up for more than 10-15 mins and no one is coming, then yes, go call the cops, whatever you want.
—Guest arg

people just need to calm down

I had just gotten done from taking my dog to the vet. I had to stop to get 3 items from the store I knew where they were and it would onlt take me 5 minuted tops to go in and out. I gave my dog water before I left and left all windows down. It was 80 degress when I came back a lady was waiting for me and haf opened my car. She started yelling at the so naturally I yelled at her back. She said she called the cops and that I was going prosecuted I waited 30 min and they never came so I left. People just need to calm down and use common sence and take action if the dog really is in danger dont jump to conclusions if you dont know.
—Guest loveclover05

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A parked car can be a deathtrap on a warm day

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