Many of us have been there before. You pull into a parking spot on a hot summer day, only to find a dog left unattended in the car next to you. You may be worried about what could happen if you simply move on with your day. According to the Humane Society, when it is 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside a vehicle can heat up to 116 degrees Fahrenheit within an hour. When it is 80 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 99 degrees Fahrenheit within 10 minutes. Further, rolling down the windows has been shown to have little effect on the temperature inside a car. Unlike humans, our pets do not have the ability to sweat to reduce their body temperatures. Being left in a vehicle can lead to a “painful, horrible death.” For example, once a dog’s body temperature exceeds 105 or 106 degrees, their cells start dying, which can lead to seizures or even mass organ failure and death.
Knowing the dangers to the animal, you may even be wondering how people can still do this after we see the same stories every year. As you sit there wanting to help, you may also be left to wonder what you can do in the moment, legally speaking. As with many legal issues, the answer is dependent upon the state in which you live.