What To Do If You See A Pet In A Hot Car

Animal Clinic of Verona

September 2017

We’ve heard the stories on the news of pets perishing in hot cars they were left in by their owners. Even on a day when it’s 70 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car, with all the windows closed can hit 90 degrees in just 10 minutes. On a hot day, the temperature inside a closed car can shoot as high as 116 degrees in the same amount of time. Even with the windows rolled down, the glass and other materials of your car grab heat, making it much hotter than it is outside.

What should you do if you see a pet left in a hot car? Is it legal for you to break the window and release the pet? Virginia code § 3.2-6504.1. States that:

- No law-enforcement officer as defined in § 9.1-101, firefighter as defined in § 65.2-102, emergency medical services personnel as defined in § 32.1-111.1, or animal control officer who in good faith forcibly enters a motor vehicle in order to remove an unattended companion animal that is at risk of serious bodily injury or death shall be liable for any property damage to the vehicle entered or injury to the animal resulting from such forcible entry and removal of the animal, unless such property damage or injury results from gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct.

So, in other words, if you call emergency services and let them know what you’ve discovered, one of the emergency services personnel can help the animal. So, what you should do when you find an animal in this situation is to :

  • Take down the car's make, model and license plate number.
  • If there are businesses nearby, notify their managers or security guards and ask them to make an announcement to find the car's owner. Many people are unaware of the danger of leaving pets in hot cars and will quickly return to their vehicle once they are alerted to the situation.
  • If the owner can't be found, call the non-emergency number of the local police or animal control and wait by the car for them to arrive.

Do not attempt to break the animal out yourself, as you will open yourself up to potential legal trouble.

Depending on how hot the days are, animals can become very susceptible to over-heating even when not stuck in a car. It helps to know what signs to look for.

  • Heavy panting or rapid breathing
  • Excessive thirst
  • Glazed eyes
  • Vomiting, bloody diarrhea
  • Bright or dark red tongue, gums
  • Staggering, stumbling
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Weakness, collapse
  • Increased pulse and heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Excessive drooling
  • Unconsciousness

Summertime in the warmth and sun is great! And we all know our pets love to spend time with us. Just be sure to keep an eye on them so everyone enjoys their day outside.

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The Animal Clinic of Verona is located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley!

We are conveniently located near the following localities:

Staunton, Augusta County, Verona, Fishersville, Penn Laird, McGayhesville, Waynesboro, Weyers Cave, Shenandoah Valley, Highland County, Harrisonburg, Churchville, Stuarts Draft, Grottoes, Port Republic, Harriston, New Hope, and Crimora!

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