Summer is a wonderful time of year but along with hot summer temperatures comes a life threat to dogs left unattended in vehicles. It seems very logical not to do this but once in a while, an unthinking dog owner decides it's ok to leave their beloved pet in the car. WRONG!

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Most people are aware of the dangers of leaving a dog in a hot car and how quickly they can be overcome by the heat but there are always those who are ignorant of the dangers and leave their pet in their vehicle while they're shopping or at an appointment. After all, it's just for a few minutes, right? Sadly, a few minutes of hot temperatures inside a vehicle are all it takes to harm or even kill a dog.

Why are dogs so vulnerable in the heat?
According to the ASPCA, temperatures can rise by as much as 20 degrees in a vehicle in less than 10 minutes. Dogs cope with being hot by panting but unfortunately, as the temperature in the vehicle rises, panting is not enough to cool them down and they can become dehydrated, develop heatstroke or even die from the heat, EVEN IF YOU LEAVE THE WINDOWS OPEN. See the graphic below from the ASPCA.

You may remember an incident last summer where a dog was left in a vehicle with windows up while the owner was inside the Oneonta Hannaford. Bob Howard, owner of Dogwatch of Upstate NY, a local pet containment company called state police to come help but in the meanwhile, opened the vehicle door to rescue the dog who he said was in distress. A group of others joined in an attempt to prevent the dog's owner from leaving the parking lot until police arrived. Police informed Howard that under New York State law, it's illegal to break into someone's vehicle to rescue a dog in those circumstances. He could have gotten a ticket for his act but fortunately didn't after revealing his dog expertise.

If you come across a similar situation where you see a dog in a vehicle on a hot day and are concerned for its safety, you can not directly legally intervene but here's what you CAN do:

  • Call the police to alert them of the situation
  • Call a local animal shelter to ask for help

Be on the lookout for vulnerable pets in hot vehicles so we can help our furry friends who can't help themselves!


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To prepare yourself for a potential incident, always keep your vet's phone number handy, along with an after-hours clinic you can call in an emergency. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center also has a hotline you can call at (888) 426-4435 for advice.

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