Connect with us


Animals in hot cars: a guide for pet owners and bystanders

With warmer temperatures upon us, it is important to know what you should do as a pet owner, and a bystander, when it comes to animals in hot cars.



Photo courtesy of Humane Society

With warmer temperatures upon us, it is important to stay informed on what you should do as a pet owner, and a bystander, when it comes to animals in hot cars.

According to the Humane Society, on a warm day the temperature in a car can exceed 120° in a matter of minutes—even with the windows partially open. Your pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke or suffocation. That information alone makes the decision simple. Don’t leave your pet in a hot car.

It is also illegal in Massachusetts to leave an animal in a car where it could threaten the health of the animal due to extreme heat or cold temperatures. Not to mention a pet could be stolen when left in a vehicle. Leaving an animal in a hot car is punishable by a fine of not more than $150 for a first offense, by a fine of not more than $300 for a second offense and by a fine of not more than $500 for a third or subsequent offense.



• Look for signs of heat stress
—heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, unsteadiness, a staggering gait, vomiting or a deep red or purple tongue.

•If your pet is overheated, move him to a cooler area and take these emergency steps:

1. Gradually lower his body temperature by sprinkling cool water on him. Do not soak him in cool or cold water because
his temperature could drop too low.

2. Place cool, wet towels over the back of the neck, in the armpits, and in the groin area. You may also wet the ear flaps and paws with cool water. Direct a fan on the wet areas to speed evaporative cooling.

3. You may offer fresh, cool water if your dog is alert and wants to drink. Do not force your pet to drink.

• Take your pet immediately to a veterinarian
—it could save his life. Call ahead, if possible, to be sure your veterinarian is available.

If you are a bystander and see a pet left in a hot car, make sure you know the law. If you see an animal inside the car, you are allowed to break the window, but only under certain circumstances. Some think that it is legal to just break into a vehicle to save the animal. According to the law, that is not totally true. The animal needs to look in immediate distress. If so, you must then try to find the owner of the vehicle. Then you must call the police to let them know you are about to break into the car to retrieve the animal.

Here is the law as it is stated:
After making reasonable efforts to locate a motor vehicle’s owner, a person other than an animal control officer, law enforcement officer or fire fighter shall not enter a motor vehicle to remove an animal to protect the health and safety of that animal in immediate danger unless the person: (i) notifies law enforcement or calls 911 before entering the vehicle; (ii) determines that the motor vehicle is locked or there is no other reasonable means for exit and uses not more force than reasonably necessary to enter the motor vehicle and remove the animal; (iii) has a good faith and reasonable belief, based upon known circumstances, that entry into the vehicle is reasonably necessary to prevent imminent danger or harm to the animal; and (iv) remains with the animal in a safe location in reasonable proximity to the vehicle until law enforcement or another first responder arrives. (f) A person who removes an animal from a motor vehicle pursuant to subsection (e) shall be immune from criminal or civil liability that might otherwise result from the removal.

Between possible fines, hurting the health of your pet, and possibly getting a broken window, it is just not worth risking leaving a pet in a vehicle that could get hot.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Willetta Incillo

    May 4, 2018 at 9:03 am

    I take my dog with me everywhere I also own a KURGO harness, which lets me keep all my windows open or cracked with water of course, we do lots and lots of road trips, it’s so great for Him and I enjoy watching him enjoy Riding in the back of the SUV.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Copyright © 2017 Fall River Reporter