resources > dogs in hot cars
It takes just minutes for a car to turn into an oven
Even if the temperature outside is just 70˚F or the car windows are cracked open, the temperature inside a vehicle will reach dangerously high levels in just minutes — and a dog or cat could suffer severe illness or die if left unattended in the car.
Leaving an animal in an unattended vehicle when the temperature is hot is both a legal and medical issue.
CHECK OUT VIDEO
Need proof? Athlete sits in hot car to prove what it's like for a dog left behind.
ACTION: WHAT YOU CAN DO
If you see it, act on it. This could be a life or death matter.
1. Record what you observe
Write down the make, model and license-plate number of the car and street location.
2. Try to locate owner
Try to locate the owner of the animal by approaching businesses nearby and asking them to make an announcement to find the owner. Return to the car and wait for law enforcement/authorities (see #3).
3. Contact local police or sheriff — or other designated authorities
If the animal is in distress, call law enforcement immediately.
• Law enforcement
The statute also gives authority to:
• Humane agents
• Dog wardens
Animal control agencies vary throughout Minnesota. In the metro:
• Fire or rescue departments of a political subdivision:
5. Please donate
Donate today to support the HEAT KILLS campaign and other efforts of Animal Folks to protect animals and provide information to the public and law enforcement. As part of a training program for law enforcement, Animal Folks has also created a multi-page Q&A training sheet to educate peace officers about the law, the issue and actions to take.
Donate now. With your donation of $25 or more to Animal Folks, you'll receive a gift of 10 "Heat Kills" postcards for you to hand out when needed. It's our way of saying thank you for helping spread the word and supporting training efforts.
WANT TO LEARN MORE? READ ON.
NOTE: Animal Folks has created a Q&A sheet for law enforcement explaining the law and what action is needed, legally and medically. Information below is included in the Q&A sheet.
DISCLAIMER: This material is educational only. It does not constitute legal or medical advice.
1. What is the Minnesota statute regarding dogs and cats in hot vehicles?
The statute is: Minn. Stat. Sec. 346.57 Dogs and Cats in Motor Vehicles
2. Why is this statute important?
If a dog or cat is left confined and unattended in a hot vehicle with rising temperatures, the animal could literally cook to death. Read on for further medical descriptions.
3. Does "reasonable force" mean the window can be broken?
Yes, a peace officer or others defined within statute (see above) can break the window to retrieve the dog or cat.
4. What if the windows are cracked open?
As explained above, studies have proven that even when car windows are cracked open the car's interior temperatures can soar to dangerous highs. The first 15-30 minutes are critical. See chart below. (Data from study by Jan Null, CCM, San Francisco State Univ.)
5. Are certain dogs or cats at more risk?
All dogs and cats are at risk but there are some types and breeds that are more sensitive to heat extremes: elderly, overweight or very young animals as well as brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds such as pugs, boxers and bulldogs and, for cats, Persians and Himalayans — due to short airways.
6. What happens (medically) to a dog or cat due to excessive heat?
The medical condition condition is hyperthermia, also referred to as heat stroke. The degree of hyperthermia can vary based on animal breed, age, type and other factors. Hyperthermia means an elevated body temperature. The normal temperature for a dog or cat is between 99.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Hyperthermia occurs when the dog or cat can't dissipate the heat fast enough. Dogs and cats don't sweat; instead, they pant to release heat. Dogs and cats have very few sweat glands and most are in the footpads; hot upholstery can also hurt the paws. Panting is the body's attempt to cool the animal but, as this involves rapid muscle movement, it actually increases body temperature in a confined area. Humidity also rises secondary to panting, which exacerbates the situation. Once a critical core body temperature is exceeded, the blood's clotting mechanism shuts down and the animal will start to bleed internally. Shock develops quickly, followed by death if aggressive emergency treatment is not sought.
NOTE: Most dogs and cats with hyperthermia have temperatures greater than 105˚F.
7. What actions should law enforcement/authorities take?
Ideally, two peace officers or authorities are needed to work simultaneously to handle the incident — one addresses the needs of the animal while the other looks for the owner and documents the evidence/impressions at the scene. Due to limited resources, two peace officers may not be possible.
The ideal: If the emergency veterinary hospital is nearby and resources permit, law enforcement should place the animal on a cooling mat in the squad car and immediately transport the animal to the hospital. If the veterinary hospital is not nearby, actions below should be administered by the authority:
8. What is the penalty for violation of this law?
Petty misdemeanor. However, based on the situation, other laws and penalties may apply. See next question.
9. What other Minnesota laws could apply to this situation?
The fact that the dog or cat may be without water and unable to regulate his or her heat could result in unnecessary pain, suffering or death. If so, this could also be charged as animal cruelty or an omission of care (not providing shade, water, proper temperature). Applicable statutes:
NOTE: This material is educational only. It does not constitute legal or medical advice.
OTHER RESOURCES AND RELATED ARTICLES
My Dog Is Cool: http://mydogiscool.com
One Green Planet: Animals and Nature
Examiner.com: Man charged following death of dog in hot car