Can you break into a car to save a dog’s life? That is probably a question many ask themselves when they see a dog trapped into a hot car.
Well, sadly, breaking into the car is a felony and an act of vandalism. Therefore, we want to share with you first aid guidelines for what to do if you see a dog in a hot car.
Every year, dogs suffer and die because their owners leave them in a parked car. Even just a minute can be a minute too much.
Parked cars are the worst place you can leave a dog. They are basically deathtraps for dogs. Just think about this for a second.
On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside the car can reach up to 100 degrees in a matter of minutes, sometimes even seconds. And on a 90-degree day, the temperature soars up to 109 degrees.
For a longer period, those temperatures can be dangerous to humans, and even more fatal for dogs.
Your furry friend can sustain brain damage, or even die from a heat stroke if left for more than 10 minutes. And for dogs, it is even harder to beat the heat, since they can only cool down by panting.
So, with that in mind, what to do if you see a dog in a hot car?
How to help dogs in a hot car?
The first thing you should do is take down the model, make, and license plate number of the car. Look around, and see if there are any businesses nearby.
See if the owner is there. Try to make an announcement in the nearby businesses to locate the car’s owner.
Many people are simply not aware of the dangers and consequences of leaving a dog in a hot car. If they are alerted to the dangers and the situation, they will quickly return.
If the owner cannot be found, it is time to act. Call the non-emergency number of the local police, give them the car model, make, and license plate, and wait for them to arrive. You can also call the local animal control.
Monitor the dog
While you are waiting for help to come, you should wait by the car and monitor the dog. Do not leave until the dog is safe.
Watch and monitor to see if the dog shows any signs and symptoms of heatstroke. Those include excessive thirst, thick saliva, restlessness, heavy panting, lethargy, dark tongue, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, fever, and lack of coordination.
If he shows any of these symptoms, the situation is reaching critical levels. At this point, it is important that you take the dog out of the heat, and preferably into an air-conditioned vehicle, and then to a veterinary office.
Once the dog is outside of the heated car, he needs lots of water. You should give him water to drink, and spray him with cool water so that you can lower his body temperature gradually.
Another way to help the dog is to apply cool and wet towels to the groin area, stomach, and chest area. Do not use ice water, as you risk to overcool the animal.
Other ways you can help
There are many other ways you can help dogs in a hot car. And most of them are indirect. Here is what you should try to do.
- Get informed, and learn the town and state laws about leaving pets in cars. Many states nowadays prohibit leaving pets in hot cars, and some even grant immunity to good Samaritans that rescue pets by breaking into the car
- Gather essential telephone numbers you can call, including local animal control, police department, and more. Keep these numbers close, you never know when you will need them
- Spread the word, this is probably the most important aspect. Try to talk to your friends, those with and without pets, and educate them about the dangers of leaving animals in a hot car. You can share the guidelines with the local law enforcement officials, and ask them to investigate hot car-related deaths
- Get involved, and be active. You can do that by asking store managers, shopping malls, restaurants, and similar businesses where people park their car for just a few minutes to post signs asking customers not to leave their pets in the car. Raising awareness is a huge part of the solution
- Last, but not least, speak up. If the city or state you live in does not have a law prohibiting leaving pets in parked cars, try to attend a town hall meeting and ask for one
Cool outside and cool in the car
One of the big misconceptions people have is that if it is cool outside, it will be cool inside the car as well. Wrong. It doesn’t have to be warm outside for a car to be dangerously and life-threatening hot inside.
For example, just 72 Fahrenheit outside can easily turn to 116 F inside within 30 to 40 minutes. And some owners leave their dogs for prolonged periods.
Another misconception is that rolling the windows down will change the situation. It will help, but it has just little and usually insignificant effect on the temperature inside the car.
Can you get in trouble for breaking into the car?
This is the first thing we discussed at the beginning. Can you break into a car to save a dog’s life? There are two sides to this story.
It depends on the state you are in. Some states allow good Samaritans to break into the car and save the dog’s life. Others do not.
In normal circumstances, it is illegal to smash the window or break into the car. However, some states allow having a lawful excuse to cause damage at the time of the break-in.
Generally speaking, if you think the dog owner will be happy to have his window broken to save their dog, you will be fine.
However, the police are not encouraging people to smash windows. Instead, they ask people to provide them with information and let them save the animal’s life.
Will the owner get in trouble?
Same as with the previous question, it all depends on the state they are in. Some states punish owners for irresponsible pet ownership.
There are general guidelines set by the American Veterinary Medical Association, but there are also state-related guidelines and laws.
Walking a dog on a hot day
Now that we answered all of your questions related to what to do if you see a dog in a hot car, let’s talk about walking dogs on a hot day as well.
You might say that walking a dog on a hot day is just as dangerous. Keep in mind that your dog walks on the pathway barefoot.
He doesn’t have shoes to protect his feet. And if it feels hot enough to fry an egg outside, it can cause problems for your dog.
Generally speaking, when you try to walk your dog on a hot day, check the asphalt.
If you can keep your hand on it for more than 15 seconds, it is probably safe for your dog. But if you can’t, do not walk your dog unless it is on a surface like grass.