The 3 Steps You Must Follow To Rescue A Dog In A Hot Car

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The 3 Steps You Must Follow To Rescue A Dog In A Hot Car


The summer heat is here, and while that's good news for surfers and beachgoers, it's dangerous for our pets.

Dogs and cats get dehydrated on hot days, just like we do, but the biggest risk comes when their owners take them out for errands during a heatwave.

Leave Your Pets At Home

Dog car

The American Veterinary Medical Association says hundreds of dogs die after being left in hot cars each year.

What some dog owners don't realize is just how quickly a car with no air conditioning can get scorching hot.

The Humane Society says that at 72 degrees, the inside of a car can heat up to 116 degrees in just an hour.

When it's 80 degrees outside, it only takes a minute for the inside of a car to reach a broiling 99 degrees.

Dog car

Rolling down the windows has next to no effect, and one charity warns it can take as little as 20 minutes for a dog to die in the heat.

That means any would-be rescuers have to act fast. But there are risks to being a good Samaritan.

Any owner irresponsible enough to leave an animal in a hot car could try to get you in trouble with the law for smashing their window.

What are the rules about rescuing pets from these situations?

Follow The Three Steps To Rescue A Dog

Dog hot car
Public Domain Pictures

Take notes

Once you notice a dog has been left in a hot car, start taking notes right away,

Copy the make, model, and license plate number of the car, along with what time you first noticed the dog inside.

Take precaution

Before you do anything hasty, head into the nearest business and ask them to make an announcement for the car's owner.

Nine times out of 10, a regretful owner will rush out of the store to help their pet. But you need to act quickly on the off chance that no one answers the message.

Take action

If the owner does not arrive, you should call for help.

Dog hot car
Jeremy Papaso - Boulder Daily Camera

There are several options for who to call depending on the situation:

  • Call the local non-emergency police number to request advice.
  • Call AAA or another car service to open the vehicle.
  • Call the local animal control bureau or the local SPCA branch.

It may be tempting to break open a car window, but you could land in serious trouble for doing this in some states.

Local authorities and animal rescuers will be able to advise you about what you can or can't do in your case, so you can make an informed decision.

Know The Signs Of Canine Heatstroke

Canine heatstroke
Jan-Erik Finnberg - Flickr

To tell how quickly you need to act, you should learn the signs that a dog is in serious trouble.

Like humans, dogs will pass out from exhaustion when their bodies overheat, but they react to the temperature in different ways:

Look out for:

  • Restlessness
  • Heavy panting with a dark tongue
  • A rapid heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Uncoordinated behavior or stumbling
  • Lack of awareness (doesn't respond to your voice or gestures)

If you rescue an overheated animal from a car, get them into the shade or air conditioning quickly, and give them cool water to drink.

Stay Prepared

Dog hot car

Since time is of the essence, prepare yourself to rescue a dog at a moment's notice with these steps:

  • Check your local and state laws about rescuing animals from hot cars to see if your actions are protected.
  • Keep the non-emergency police phone number saved to your phone so you can act quickly.

You can also keep pets safe by passing out these printable Humane Society flyers in your neighborhood.

Let's all do our part to keep dogs safe this summer!

[H/T: Humane Society]

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