Think leaving your pet in the car during a shopping trip is worth it? Think again.
“Leaving pets locked in cars is never safe,” says The Humane Society of the United States. “But when the weather gets warmer, it can be deadly.”
Most importantly, your animal can suffer irreparable damage to its organs or even die. But you might also end up with a broken car window, thanks to a California law passed last year to help animals in distress.
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Remember: Temperatures inside the car skyrocket past those outside the car.
Here are five key things related to pets in hot cars:
1. Don’t do it. Even if you crack the windows open. Even if you park in the shade. Even if you’ve done it hundreds of times in the past. Even if it’s a hassle. Even if you think it’s no one else’s business how you treat your pets.
You know better. Just knock it off.
2. Can I break a window? Assembly Bill 797, signed in September 2016 by Gov. Jerry Brown, allows bystanders to free animals from vehicles that are too hot or too cold as long as certain conditions are met.
The animal must appear to be in imminent danger, there must be no other way to rescue the animal and law enforcement must first be contacted. Also, the rescuer must use no more force than necessary to free the animal. Afterward, the rescuer must remain at the scene with the animal until law enforcement arrives.
The law protects rescuers from criminal prosecution and liability for civil damages if those conditions are met.
3. I don’t want to break someone’s window. What else can I do? Contact law enforcement or animal control on the non-emergency number. Then take down the vehicle’s make, model and license number, suggests The Human Society of the United States. Also, ask nearby businesses to make an announcement to try to find the vehicle’s owner. The Humane Society says many people are unaware of the danger of leaving pets in hot vehicles and will return immediately to their vehicle if notified.
4. How do I tell if a pet is in distress? Heavy panting, a dark red tongue, drooling, vomiting and lethargy are some of signs that a dog may be dangerously overheated, reports PetMD.com. Restlessness, panting, sweaty feet, drooling and excessive grooming are symptoms of overheating in cats.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says animals with flat faces, like pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke than other breeds because they cannot pant as effectively. Elderly, overweight or unhealthy dogs also are at greater risk.
5. What do I do after the pet is freed? If you can, get the dog or cat to a cool environment right away, advises DogsCatsPets.com. Even a shady spot nearby will be better than remaining in the sun. Give the animal all the cool water it can drink, and cool it with water. Do not cover or confine the animal, and get it to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
In the end, if pets aren’t allowed inside the places you are visiting on a warm or hot day, it’s best to leave them safe at home.