Pet Left in Hot Car

Jun 9, 2018

Let's go for a ride!
Credit Greg Walters [Flickr]

A happy dog sitting in a car, hoping to go for a ride - what is wrong with this picture?  Nothing really, if the human makes sure the pet can ride safely, and does not leave the animal alone in the car, even for a few minutes.  


Last month, animal control officers in Charlotte, North Carolina, responded to a call about a pet squirrel left in a closed, locked car - in a cage – with no food or water - during the middle of the day. The temperature inside the car was 114 degrees Farenheit, even with the windows cracked. The woman who left her pet in the car was arrested and charged with “ill treatment of animals”, and the squirrel was taken into custody by Animal Control.

The truth is that any animal left in a closed car on a warm day is in jeopardy. Every year pets die after being left confined in a car, often by caring owners who think they will be gone for only a few minutes.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, on a mild 85-degree day the temperature inside a car can reach 102 degrees in just ten minutes, even with the windows slightly open, even if the car is parked in the shade. The temperature will climb to 120 degrees within 30 minutes. On warmer days the temperature will rise higher and faster.

Some folks try to leave the air conditioner running thinking that will ensure their pets’ safety, but if the engine dies while you’re away your pet is trapped in a vehicle that quickly becomes an oven.

Pets cool themselves by panting, which removes heat from their body as moisture from their lungs evaporates. If the air around a pet is overheated or too humid, the animal’s body temperature rises. If its body temperature reaches 104 degrees, that’s heat-stroke territory. Anything in excess of 106 degrees is considered a severe heat stroke which could lead to permanent brain damage and even death; immediate veterinary attention is required for an animal that experiences heat stroke.

Never leave an animal alone in a closed car, even with the windows cracked, even with the engine running, even if you think it will only be a minute. If you have to make a stop or run an errand, either take someone with you that can stay with your pet, or leave it safely at home.

Putting your best friend’s life at risk is just not worth it, especially for the sake of convenience, when you’re speaking of pets.