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What To Do If You Spot A Dog In A Hot Car

Warm weather and long summer days may mean your beloved pup can get in some extra romps under the sun, but the heat can also have adverse affects.

Pets especially feel those effects when their owners leave them in the car, even if only for a little bit. The temperature inside a car can rise nearly 20 degrees in 10 minutes, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. By 20 minutes, it’s nearly 30 degrees. And rolling down the windows doesn’t help.

So what can you do if you see a dog in a hot car?

1. Recognize the symptoms of overheating

There are several symptoms dogs may exhibit when they’re overheating, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Those symptoms include:

  • Excessive panting or difficulty breathing
  • Increased heart rate or respiratory rate
  • Drooling (or increased drooling)
  • Mild weakness
  • Stupor

Dogs can sometimes even collapse. Other symptoms may include bloody diarrhea and vomit, as well as an elevated body temperature. Animals with flat faces, such as pugs, don’t pant as effectively as other dogs, so they’re more prone to overheating.

2. Try to find the owner if the dog isn’t in immediate danger

The humane society suggests taking down the car’s make, model, and license plate number and going to nearby businesses, if any, to ask the manager can make an announcement.

3. Call an authority

Call a non-emergency number, local law enforcement, or animal control and wait for them to arrive.

4. Know the law. Ohio, for example, has a Good Samaritan law regarding minors and pets in hot cars.

Gov. John Kasich signed a bill passed by Ohio lawmakers last year that would allow someone to forcibly enter a car to help a minor or pet without having to worry about liability. Immunity is only guaranteed if you follow the appropriate procedures, though. Not doing so can constitute recklessness or willful or wanton misconduct. So before you go breaking anything, take the following precautions:

  • Determine the car is locked or there is no other way for the dog to get out.
  • You must have a good faith belief that forcible entry is necessary and the dog is imminently at risk.
  • Contact the authorities or a 9-1-1 operator. If it’s not possible to do so before, do so ASAP.
  • Make a good faith effort to leave a notice on the windshield with your contact information, your reason for entering the car, the location of the dog, and that the authorities were contacted.
  • Remain with the dog in a safe place until the authorities arrive.
  • Use no more force than necessary.

It’s easy to underestimate just how dangerous it can be to leave a dog in the car, even if it’s just for a quick visit to the bank or a run to the store. If you see a dog in a hot car, these steps should help you handle the situation.