Dogs in hot cars: What to do if you see one
The image of a dog in an oven is disturbing — but it’s making an important point: Leaving a dog in a car on a hot day can be just as dangerous as putting him in an oven.
That’s the message of the new Hot Car/Hot Oven PSA campaign by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. The unsettling posters remind us that leaving a dog in a hot car is not only dangerous — it’s illegal.
We talked to Debbie Knaan, LA’s deputy district attorney in charge of animal cruelty cases, about the campaign — and what to do if you see a dog in a hot car. Her answer: If you see a dog left alone in a hot car, try to locate the owner, notify on-site security personnel if possible, or call 911.
(Check out our article on signs of heatstroke and what to do if a pet is exposed to high temperatures.)
To learn more about the campaign, download the poster or request copies
of the ad on 5″ x 7″ cards, visit the L.A. Country D.A.’s office’s Web site.
Why is the L.A. County District Attorney’s office running the Hot Car
Every spring and summer there are many
well-meaning animal lovers who leave their (primarily) dogs in vehicles
while they shop or run errands without realizing that their beloved pet
may end up suffering — or even dying — due to the effects of
heatstroke. Most people don’t know that even on mild days, with
temperatures in the low to mid-70’s, the temperature inside a parked car
can quickly reach 100 degrees. In warmer, 85-degree weather,
temperatures can reach 120 degrees within a half hour, even if a car
window is left open a crack.
Our goal is to inform people about the dangers of leaving animals
unattended in a vehicle on a warm or hot day and to let them know that
not only is it unsafe to do so, it’s also illegal. Leaving an animal
unattended in a vehicle under conditions that endanger the health or
well-being of an animal due to heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation,
or lack of food or water, or other circumstances that could reasonably
cause suffering, disability, or death is a crime that carries with it up
to six months in jail in L.A. (Penal Code 597.7).
People should know, too, that just because a vehicle is parked in the
shade, it doesn’t mean that the vehicle is not too hot for your pet.
In short, the campaign is designed to educate people and protect
If someone sees a dog in a car who’s in distress, what should
Depending on the urgency of the situation, a person
can try to locate the owner, ask a store to page the owner of the car,
notify security personnel that may be on the premises, or call 911.
What are better options for traveling with a pet than leaving him in a
Unless you are sure you can bring your pet into
the store or business you will be visiting (calling ahead to ask is a
good idea), it is best to leave your pet at home when it is warm out.
How can our readers get involved?
People can contact
the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office and
request posters or 5″ x 7″ cards that they can distribute or ask local
businesses to place in their windows. They can also e-mail the poster to
friends and family or post it on social networking sites, such as
Facebook or Myspace.
(Editor’s note: You can also download hot car awareness fliers and
posters by the United Animal Nations on MyDogIsCool.com.)
How can our readers tell if it’s too hot to leave their pet in
A good rule of thumb to follow when deciding
whether to leave your pet in a vehicle is, “When in doubt, don’t.”
Tell us: Have you seen a dog in a parked car on a hot day before? What
did you do?
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