With the weather warming up, and more people are traveling with their pets, this is a good time to remember that you should never leave your dog or cat unattended in a parked car, even with the windows cracked or rolled partially down. Even on a relatively mild day, it only takes a few minutes for the interior temperature of a parked car to reach 100 to 120 degrees. According to the National Weather Service, a dark dashboard or seat “can easily reach temperatures in the range of 180 degrees to more than 200 degrees.”
A pet left unattended in a parked car may suffer from heatstroke, brain damage and may even die without receiving prompt medical attention. Pets that are very young, elderly, overweight, those with dark fur, and brachycephalic breeds are most at risk for overheating, although any pet can succumb to hyperthermia. Even the short amount of time it takes you to run a quick errand may be deadly for your pet.
What should you do if you see an unattended pet that is in distress in a parked car? If you are parked near a store or business, jot down the make, model and license plate number of the car, and try contacting the store manager, who may be able to page the owner. Try to remain with the animal until help arrives. In an emergency, you can also call the police or local animal control for assistance. There are at least 14 states with laws to protect animals left in parked vehicles.