Tuesday, May 3, 2016

6 steps to take before you free a pet from a hot car

Summer approaches, people.

Actually, forget it. If you're in Florida, summer is already here. Temperatures are in the 80s and they will only go up from here. So will that wretched heat index.

We are now in that period where leaving your pets in the car is dangerous, maybe even deadly.

In 2016, Florida lawmakers passed a bill that will protect people who damage a hot vehicle to rescue a human or a pet from criminal liability or lawsuits. But that doesn't mean you should just go charging in, breaking windows.

Find out what steps you need to take if you find yourself in this situation.

Don't break into a hot car to save a dog until you take these steps

How hot can it get inside a car?

Some people say, "oh, I'm only leaving the dog for a few minutes."

Lets review how hot it can get in a car.

Car Heat Dangers for your dog

Even if it's 70 degrees outside, temperatures can rise over the course of an hour to over 100 degrees inside the car.

And for the record:
  • Dogs only sweat through their foot pads
  • Cracking the window does not make the car cooler
  • Neither does putting it under a tree or other shade

Florida lawmakers passed HB 131 in 2016. The bill is now law in the state.

The law protects a person from criminal or civil liability if they damage a car in an attempt to rescue a vulnerable person (like a kid or a disabled adult), or a pet, according to Staff Analysis.

But that does not mean that if you come across a car with a pet inside that you should just take a pipe to the window. There are some steps you still need to follow.
  1. Try to find the owner of the vehicle
  2. Make sure the vehicle definitely locked and there is no way for the pet or person to get out
  3. Notify law enforcement or call 911 and make sure they know you may try to break into the car
  4. Make sure it is absolutely necessary to do so
  5. Use no more force than necessary to break into the car
  6. Stay with the pet or person until law enforcement or a first responder arrives
Taking all these steps will help you make sure you did your due diligence. That's how you stay safe under the law.

Lulu loves to ride in the car. But I never leave her in the car if I can help it.
Lulu loves to ride in the car. But I never leave her in the car if I can help it.
In Florida, a person can be arrested or fined for leaving a dog in a hot car to the point of being in danger. Animal cruelty is the charge. But it's not necessarily an easy thing to prove animal cruelty. Efforts to create a specific charge for leaving a dog in a hot car did not make it through the legislature this year.

If you're not in Florida, Animal Legal Defense Fund has a list of laws in different states that involve pets in unattended vehicles. You can find it on their website.

So be on the lookout for dogs and people trapped in a hot car. And stay cool this summer.


  1. Outstanding post, and especially the infographic, very helpful.

  2. Such important information! I have been THISclose to breaking a window on several occasions.

  3. Loved this post!!! It is so very important to spread the word!

  4. I don't understand why people just don't leave their pets at home than take them out to only leave them in a hot car? The pets are not enjoying being left alone in a car - never mind a hot car! Here in Canada, you can call the SPCA to report pets left in hot cars.

  5. Fantastic post and such an important reminder with summer around the corner

  6. I imagine in Florida, you can't leave a dog in a car year-round. I'm glad you provide steps before breaking a window... Some people overreact!

  7. Great post! Last summer I called the police about a dog left in a hot car. Luckily they showed up quickly and the dog was ok.

  8. Just a great post!! I don't understand that people still leave their dogs in the car on such warm days.. Love x

  9. I've never needed to break one, thank dog, but I have reported several. :( I just don't know what people are thinking. We've had increased police patrolling of certain box box store parking lots in warmer months the last few summers. I'm so glad this practice is getting more media coverage.

  10. Very important post - thanks for sharing it with us.

  11. This is really educational information - I did not know all of this, so thank you very much for sharing! This helps me understand the critical points where I need to consider intervention!

  12. Great advice, this can be an issue in Australia and it gets mighty hot here in summer.

  13. This is an awesome reminder for the upcoming summer season

  14. Such an important reminder and great tips on the steps to take.

  15. I love the iinfographic, I wish they made those as printables! Heat and dogs in cars is a major issue in the USA in't it! Thanks for this timely reminder.


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