Now that we’ve had a refresher on the rules, the question remains – what do you do when you see someone else’s dog in a hot car? Here are a few tips from the experts:
1. Get informed.
According to the Humane Society, the first thing that you can do to help a dog in a dangerous situation is to learn the facts yourself. Check out your town or state’s laws on leaving an animal in a car. Gather the phone number of the police department’s non-emergency line and also the animal control department in your town. Be prepared so that you aren’t left trying to solve the problem at the last minute, and wasting what could be precious and critical moments for the overheated dog.
2. Take down the car’s information.
The Humane Society says that when you see a dog left in a car, immediately take down the vehicle’s model, make, color, and license plate number. These can be used to report the owner for neglect or irresponsible behavior, and also to identify who the owner is.
3. Have the owner paged.
Go into the local businesses or buildings nearby and notify a manager or security guard. Insist that they make an announcement over the intercom with the license plate number to inform the owner of the dire situation.
4. If you can’t find the owner, call the authorities.
This is when having emergency numbers saved in your phone comes in handy. Call the humane authorities or the police to come and assess the situation.
5. Do not, by any means, leave the scene.
This is probably one of the most important things to keep in mind. If you have to, have someone else watch the car and the animal while you run inside the building. According to PetMD, signs of heatstroke include restlessness, excessive thirst, heavy panting, dark tongue, rapid heartbeat, fever, vomiting, and lack of coordination. Keep a close eye on the dog for these symptoms, as it could mean that the situation needs to be acted upon very quickly.
6. If the authorities take too long, take action.
If you very honestly believe that this dog is in bad condition and showing symptoms of heatstroke, assess the situation and get a witness to back you up. Remove the dog from the heat immediately and wait for the authorities to arrive.
7. Take proper steps to care for the animal.
When the dog is removed from the hot car, the situation isn’t necessarily over yet. Get the animal into air conditioning as soon as possible and give him cool water to drink.
8. Spread awareness.
While it may seem like an easy thing to remember, some people don’t realize the dangers that heat can have on animals. Kindly remind friends and family to leave their pets at home when they run errands. The Humane Society suggests asking local businesses to hang up signs during the hotter months reminding people not to leave their dogs in their vehicles. Most importantly, if your town doesn’t have a law regarding leaving dogs in cars, attend a town meeting and start lobbying for one.
While we hope that you’ll never have to use these tips, it’s important to have them handy just in case. According to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association), hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion every year. With these tips, you may be able to lower that number.
Remember – a cool dog is a happy dog!