We don’t know about you but Alley Cat Rescue staff is feeling the heat here in Brentwood, Maryland. If people are feeling the effects of the hot weather that means our beloved pets are too.
There are plenty of ways to keep your pets safe during the summer (read our summer tips here), but one of the easiest ways is to keep your pets out of hot cars. It might not seem like a big deal to leave your cat or dog in the car while you run a few errands, but a hot car can quickly become fatal to innocent animals.
The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that hundreds of animals die each year from heat exhaustion after being left in hot cars. The temperature in a car can rise almost 20 degrees in just ten minutes. After an hour, the temperature can rise over 40 degrees. This means that even on cooler days the inside of your car could be deadly for animals.
Cracking your window will do little to prevent your car from quickly becoming a sauna. A study conducted by the Louisiana Office of Public Health found that cracking the window in a car had minimal effects on the temperature rise. The only way to ensure your pets are safe is to keep them out of unattended cars!
Slowly, legislative changes have been made to address this issue. In total, 29 states and the District of Columbia have laws against leaving unattended animals in cars. Not every state that has a law prohibiting leaving animals in cars allows for citizens to rescue the animals. In fact, in New Jersey and West Virginia it is illegal to leave an animal in the car and it is illegal to break into a car to save the animal, even for law enforcement.
Only 13 states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Indiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin) have “Good Samaritan” laws that allow private citizens to rescue animals from cars themselves. If you live in these states be careful before you rescue an animal. Some of the laws outline certain steps you need to take before breaking a window, such as contacting law enforcement, so you can be exempt from criminal liability.
Never leave your own companion animals alone in a vehicle, and make sure you are familiar with the laws in your state so that you know how to act if you see an unattended animal in distress. When in doubt, call your local law enforcement and alert them of the situation.
Meetings can be rescheduled, errands run at a different time, and broken windows can be fixed, but there’s no replacing a cherished member of the family.
Alley Cat Rescue is leading in the way in promoting humane and compassionate care for ALL cats.