Urgent Alert: Dogs in Hot Cars

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - 11:45am
Dogs in Hot Cars

As summer heats up, it’s tempting to bring your pet with you on car rides around town. Sadly, many people believe that cracking a window is enough to keep their dogs cool in the car while they make a quick pit stop—but they couldn’t be more wrong. When it’s 80 degrees outside, your car will be a staggering 114 degrees in less than 30 minutes.

Worse still, dog can’t cool themselves down as easily as people, and once they overheat, they can suffer extensive organ damage or die. That’s why leaving an animal alone in a car is more than just a bad idea, it’s a form of animal cruelty. And since the ASPCA can’t be everywhere at all times, we need YOU to be our eyes and ears on the ground.

To help save animals from dying in hot cars, take the following actions:

  • Immediately call animal control or 911 if you see an animal trapped in a hot car. Local law officials have the ability to enter the vehicle and rescue the pet.
  • Do not leave until help has arrived.
  • Notify the managers of nearby businesses so they can make an urgent announcement.
  • Sign our Hot Car Pledge to help save lives this summer and all year long.

We are working hard to spread awareness about the dangers of hot cars, but all too often, the difference between life and death comes down to the actions of individuals like you. We hope you will join our cause by keeping an eye out for dogs in distress, and by making a donation today. Together, we can prevent more tragedies and make this summer our safest season yet.

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Is it legal to break open the car's window to help the animal? I'd love to be able to help animals this way (and punish the stupid owners) without getting in trouble.


I believe it is. I was told by a police officer (also a dog lover) who said he would. The way he said it, it appears to be legal but even if not, DO IT ANYWAY!!! You can call your local state police and they can tell you. Answer this: Can you live with yourself if you found out the animal died from heat when you could have prevented it?

Rene (Tony)

You the Man, Wayne! I'll join you!

Cindy Robinson

it's good to know that I can call 911. I have done it many times anyway but I'm never quite sure if it's ok to use 911 for an animal. To me they are very bit as important and urgent as a person in an emergency. I'm glad to know that the law sees them this way too. Because if you are in an area that you are not familiar with, you wouldn't know the local animal control. This was very helpful and it makes me so sad that despite all the publicity about this, people still do it. I hope they get VERY stiff fines for this. Thanks for ASPCA for sharing this information.


It is my understanding that seeing a distressed pet in a hot car you have the legal right (and liability) to break a window. I will do this and hope everyone else will too. If it is not legal, oh well, at least the animal will live. People that do this should not be allowed to have a pet. They are all Michael Vicks as far as I am concerned.


This is legal. I just read the same thing recently.


Saw dog in a closed car near a pet store and it was 80 degrees out. Went inside the store and yelled out who left there dog in the car. Owners who were looking at puppies said it was there dog. I said you know you didn't even leave a window open. One of them mumbled it's not even hot out. I gave them some loud words because I was so furious. The guy that mumbled went to the car opened a window and sat with the dog while the others stayed and were still looking at the puppies. Like they need another dog when they can't even properly take care of the one they have.

Paul Taylor

Tell that to some police departments I called 911 for Brick Township NJ when I saw a dog locked in a car, windows part down but not enough I stayed with the dog while an employee at PathMark called when the police came I told him it was animal cruelty he said no it wasnt the dog owner started threatening me and all the cop said was did I want to file a complaint against the guy for threatening me. No concern for the dog. This has got to change

Amy Veloz

Anyone who leaves their dog in a hot car should go to prison for animal cruelty.


Yes it is legal to break a window to get a dog in danger out if law enforcement does not respond in a reasonable time (3-5 minutes on hot days). Most police will not come that fast, as it is deemed a low priority call. I always have a special hammer available you can order at Amazon for a few bucks. If you break, get a witness and tell him/her you are breaking to save a distressed animal. No judge or jury will convict or punish you for being a Good Samaritan. And the owner? Tell him he can sue you for the glass costs in small claims court . . . then wait. Nothing will ever happen. Case closed, animal saved. Just have the guts to do it, and do not wait too long!!!