This summer, you’re probably off to a well-deserved vacation with friends or family. But if you’re bringing a four-legged friend along for the ride, spare a moment’s thought for pet safety and comfort.
In modern cars, air conditioning is pretty much taken for granted. It’s the only civilized way to travel, after all. But AC efficiency easily lulls us into a false belief that pets can tolerate heat as well as we can. And nothing could be further from the truth.
Compared to humans, dogs and cats aren’t that great at regulating their body temperature. Inside a vehicle, this can get particularly tricky when the engine’s off.
The American Veterinary Medicine Association plays a prominent role in raising awareness of the dangers posed to the health of domestic animals. Each year, they take steps to emphasize that the lack of pet safety is not only a consequence of deliberate mistreatment. Many animals are threatened by being “left in cars on warm (and not necessarily hot) days while their owners are shopping (…) or running errands.”
According to AVMA, a car parked in outside temperatures of 72oF-96oF can heat up quickly. The inside of the vehicle grows 19 degrees hotter in just ten minutes and 50 hotter in two hours.
When the heat is on, emergency calls soar
In hot weather, emergency services regularly see a spike in calls. Many of these come from people concerned about the safety of dogs left inside locked cars. In these cases, owners usually feel that they’d taken adequate precaution by cracking open a window.
But let’s get one thing straight – yes, the car’s AC does still work when the engine is off. However, it can’t get the power it needs to operate at full efficiency. Without the engine, the vehicle’s occupants simply don’t get the necessary benefits of air conditioning.
Of course, no matter how brief your absence, you couldn’t leave the AC on without keeping the keys in the ignition. This only ups the ante, moving the issue from pet safety to property endangerment, so we don’t recommend it.
A dog left inside a car in warm weather might start to show signs of heatstroke. These include excessive panting, drooling, lack of coordination, drowsiness, vomiting, and loss of consciousness. The risk is especially prominent for very old or very young animals, those with a thick coat of fur, or those with a short, flat snout.
What does the law say on pet safety?
This issue was brought into focus by an incident that took place in 2015. A Georgia man was arrested for smashing a car window on a hot spring day, trying to relieve the distress of a dog inside the vehicle.
War vet Michael Hammons faced charges of criminal trespass, but these were later dropped. Local laws allowed such action to be taken in order to rescue a child in distress, though not a dog.
According to Barkpost.com, last year 28 states enacted laws that make it a civil offense to leave an animal inside a locked vehicle. In 12 states, laws reduce the risk of liability that would-be animal rescuers face.
In Texas, there is no state law preventing an animal from being left in a car. However, cruelty laws are being used to bring justice to those who deliberately neglect pet safety this way.
For a full overview of these states and applicable regulations, click here.
What should I do if I see a dog in distress?
The following five steps are proposed by PETA to anyone who sees a dog left inside a car:
- Gather information: Take a note of the car’s make, model, color and license plate. Take a photo using your smartphone.
- Tell other people: If you think there’s time, speak to a manager in a nearby building, and ask them to message the car’s owner.
- Keep watching: Return to the car and monitor the dog as best you can. Don’t leave until help arrives and you’re sure the animal is safe.
- If the owner arrives: Explain the issue and relate the action you took.
- If the owner doesn’t arrive: Call animal control. If they are unable to respond immediately, call 911 instead.
- If push comes to shove: As a measure of last resort, PETA advises that you “do what’s necessary to save the animal’s life”.
So yes, the situation can get too heated for many people to handle. But those of us who really care about animals hopefully have the confidence to do the right thing. The information presented here should help you keep the issue of pet safety in perspective when dealing with warm weather.
All this might make you feel wary about having your pet transported long-distance in summer months. But CitizenShipper has a decade of experience connecting owners with caring, compassionate transporters. These are people who genuinely love animals, and put that into action by prioritizing pet safety above all else.
One advantage of using a service like CitizenShipper is being able to choose transporters that operate in teams of two or more. This gives you the luxury of always having someone that keeps an eye on your pet. Because, when an animal starts overheating, a swift reaction is imperative.
Taking pride in their high level of service, many transporters provide regular updates via social media. This reassures clients that all is well, but also allows them to ask or answer questions along the way. You can see how valued these pet safety standards are by browsing our excellent Trustpilot reviews.
CitizenShipper is always looking for enthusiastic new drivers. If this sounds like a job you’d like to do, check out our driver Q&A. You can also get a more general idea of what the work involves from our other blog posts.
So, next time you’re looking for a caring, capable chauffeur, ready to meet your precious pet’s warm weather requirements… drop by CitizenShipper and list your transport requirements.