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What to Do If You See a Pet in a Parked Car

It takes only minutes to save a life

Leaving pets locked in cars is never safe. But when the weather gets warmer, it can be deadly. High temperatures can cause irreparable organ damage and even death. Protecting animals from an unnecessary death is a problem we can all agree to prevent.

How to help a pet left in a hot car

  • 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. In several states good Samaritans can legally remove animals from cars under certain circumstances, so be sure to know the laws in your area and follow any steps required.

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Rolling the down windows has been shown to have little effect on the temperature inside a car. Shutterstock

Other ways to help

  • Get informed: Learn your town's and state's laws about leaving pets in hot cars. An increasing amount of states prohibit leavings pets in hot cars, and some grant immunity to good Samaritans who must rescue pets in visible distress.
  • Be ready to call for help: Gather essential telephone numbers and have them on hand. You’ll want to have your local animal control agency's number and the police department's non-emergency number so you can quickly report the situation. Keep these numbers in your purse, your car's glove compartment or programmed into your phone.
  • Spread the word: Distribute The Humane Society of the United States hot car flyer, which spells out the dangers of leaving pets in parked cars. (Order them in bulk from animalsheltering.org.) Watch and share our retro video on the issue. Also share guidelines with your local law enforcement officials for how to investigate hot car-related deaths.
  • Get involved: Ask local store managers, shopping malls, restaurants and other businesses to post signs asking customers not to leave their pets in their cars while shopping or dining. A huge part of the solution to this problem is raising awareness.
  • Speak up: If your town or state doesn't have a law prohibiting leaving pets in parked cars, contact your local representatives or attend a town hall meeting to start lobbying for one. Learn the basics about advocating for animals with our activist toolkit.

Cool outside doesn't mean cool in the car

Download and share our hot car flyer [PDF]

It doesn't have to be that warm outside for a car to become dangerously hot inside. Here are some facts:

  • When it's 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 116 degrees Fahrenheit within an hour.
  • When it's 80 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 99 degrees Fahrenheit within 10 minutes.
  • Rolling down the windows has been shown to have little effect on the temperature inside a car.

Find more tips for keeping pets safe when it's hot outside

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