It Takes Only Minutes: Please Don’t Leave Pets in Hot Cars!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - 9:45am

Each year, thousands of beloved companions succumb to heatstroke and suffocation when left in parked cars. It happens most often when people make quick stops—the dry cleaners, the bank or the local deli. Folks, we need to be clear on this: It takes only minutes for your pet to face death—and it doesn’t have to be that hot out. On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can reach 160 degrees. Even with the windows cracked. 

You can help save pets from dying in hot cars. Simply take the following actions: 

  • Educate people. Hang this printable flyer [PDF] up in your local grocery store, veterinary hospital, animal shelter and other local businesses.

  • If you see something, say something. If you see a dog alone in a vehicle, immediately call animal control or 911. Local law officials have the ability to enter vehicle and rescue the pet. Do not leave until help has arrived.

  • Try to find the car’s owner. If you are out and you see a dog locked in a car, tell the nearby store manager immediately. Don't be shy.

  •  And please, no matter how much your dog loves to go along when you run errands, don't take a chance. Leave her home where she is safe. 

For more information, visit our Summer Safety Tips!

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This happened to me today. I discovered not one, but TWO dogs left in hot cars in a grocery store parking lot at 3pm with the sun shining down on them. One car had NO windows open (only the sun roof halfway) and the other had four windows cracked open only.
I checked on the dogs, then called the police, who dispatched the animal control officer immediately.
People are truly idiots.

Jeff L

I keep hearing the preaching, but I don't see where anyone is stepping up to the plate and describing how dangerous temperature conditions are generated within a vehicle, nor what temperature ranges are OK for various breeds of animals, their weight, and fur length.

A temperature rise inside a vehicle is by a large margin governed by the amount of sunlight reaching it. With 100% cloud cover, the temperature inside will remain close to outside temperature, aside from some minor contribution from engine heat and body heat. Under these conditions if the windows are open to at least 1 inch on both sides then there will be negligible heating effect and adequate ventilation for several large animals. So it might be 80 degrees outside, but if it will exceed 100 degrees on a cloudy day, then someone needs to explain how to re-write the laws of physics.

Before flying off the handle, or having the hammer head fly off when you go to break someone's car glass, consider carrying an infrared thermometer so you can verify the actual temperature versus the perceived temperature that's likely behind a swinging hammer. The IR thermometer will read the temperature through the glass.

Also, before going into an emotional avalanche over the subject, as a pet community, it's our responsibility to establish safe temperature limits for pets, and to understand the simple concepts of heat gain. Keep a thermometer in your car and read it every time you get in, whether there is a pet inside or not. It won't take long before you'll recognize what conditions cause what amount of temperature rise. The warnings are always geared toward the worst-case scenario, and assume that not everyone is willing to analyze temperature rise, but for the rest of us, established temperature limits, a thermometer, simple observation and common sense will probably save more pets from harm than those who leave their A/C running out of blunt ignorance only to find out the engine shut down from overheating when they sat down for dinner, pumping antifreeze-laden steam into the cabin on a clear 90 degree midsummer day.


This is a video that shows the horrible situation that can hapoen if we leave children or pets inside a car

Concerned Dog owner

Just want to post my experience with a psycho pet lover today. My family and I were returning from a vacation and stopped at a welcome center to use the bathroom. We decided to open all six windows and the sunroof in our van, leaving our small dog in the van. We would not normally do this, but the temperature was 70 degrees and we were parked in the shade. As I returned to my van less than 5 mins later, a lady and her husband got in my face and said they were going to call the police on me for animal cruelty. These people had been there when we pulled in and had seen how long I was away from the van. She then proceeded to open my van door and attempt to take my dog out, scaring my children who thought someone was trying to steal their dog. The lady was wearing long pants and a long sleeve sweater, which tells you it was not that hot. She also said that she was about to break my window. I am sure there are some of you who think this is right what this woman did, but it is not. It is crazy that I can not step away from my car for a couple mins. and not have to worry about some nut job calling the cops on me or breaking my window. I am a responsible pet owner and my dog was never in danger. Our young children, however, cried for the next half hour because they were so freaked out over this lady trying to take our dog. Our son that has anxiety problems could not fall asleep 8 hours later because he is so afraid someone will steal his dog. These people should be ashamed of themselves for acting so irrationally and traumatizing young children. If you are reading this article, please have some common sense before you make an irrational decision. A dog will not die after being in a car for a couple mins. on a cool day.


My niece today saw a dog in a car it was 85 degrees out she called the police and they told her she needed to report it to animal control In ct.