An Avoidable Tragedy: Dogs in Hot Cars


Every summer, as temperatures rise, so does the danger of companion animals dying because they are carelessly left in a hot car. While humans cool themselves by relying on an extensive system of sweat glands and evaporation, dogs and other animals have a harder time staying cool, leaving them extremely vulnerable to heatstroke.

Parked cars quickly trap the sun’s heat. Even on a day when it’s 70 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside a car with all the windows closed can hit 89 degrees Fahrenheit in just 10 minutes, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

On a hot day, the temperature inside a closed car can shoot as high as 114 degrees in the same amount of time. Leaving the windows open a crack doesn’t eliminate the danger of heatstroke or death.

What You Can Do

Know the Law

Discover which state laws and city/county ordinances in your jurisdiction address leaving animals unattended in vehicles. The issue may be addressed specifically or by way of general abuse/neglect statutes.

Strengthen Your Laws

Approach your legislators about addressing the “hot car” problem and enabling emergency rescues.

Connect Your Local Law Enforcement Agencies with Animal Legal Defense Fund Resources

Let your local authorities know that the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Criminal Justice Program attorneys offer training and resources to law enforcement agents on this and other animal law issues.

Download Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Dogs in Hot Cars flyer and share with others!

Spread the Word

  • Download and print our flyer, and hang in grocery stores, cafes, laundromats, and other locations where people may leave dogs in hot cars. Many businesses will be happy to hang a flyer in their front window if you ask politely. And share the flyer with your local humane agencies to help them make the public aware of these laws.
  • Download this image for Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to share on your social networking profiles.






Featured image: two dogs in a parked car. Leaving dogs in hot cars can be a fatal mistake. Image credit Thomas Hawk, CC BY-SA 3.0.

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About Author

The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s mission is to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. The Animal Legal Defense Fund accomplishes this mission by filing high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm, providing free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes, supporting tough animal protection legislation and fighting legislation harmful to animals, and providing resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. Click to see author's profile.

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