The weather is heating up all across the states in time for a very happy season. Summer! Summer is synonymous with good times, vacations, beach vibes and more. However, there is one aspect of summer that all pet advocates cringe at and that is animals that are left in hot parked cars while their pet parents shop. There is often much conversation about what do in this situation and it often causes a whole lot of stress. It’s hard to see any animal suffering, even mores if it’s avoidable!
So, what can we do as concerned citizens?
Depending on where you live, your hands are, to a varying degree, tied. Unfortunately, only 16 states currently have laws on the books that specifically prohibit leaving animals in parked cars. That’s heart breaking and tends to anger a whole lot of folks. The good news is that we are hoping that the 16 states that DO have statutes regarding this will pave the way for the other states to jump on board. However, the 16 states that DO have laws on the books prohibit private citizens to enter a car to try and save an animal that is perceived to be in imminent danger. Furthermore, there are even some states that limit a police officer or firefighter from entering the car, too. I know you are shaking your head in frustration but there are a few things that you can do to help should you see an animal locked in a hot parked car this summer.
- Call the police. Your hands are tied and you are not prevented by law from essentially breaking and entering into the care to save the dog. Seek help from the authorities. Express your concern about the dog’s imminent danger and hopefully an officer will be on the scene within minutes.
- Reach out to store management. Most store managers will glad make an announcement requesting the individual to come to the front of the store if you quickly explain the situation and your concern for the dog.
- Don’t leave. Stay close by and watch out for the animal. The police may or may not want a statement from you upon their arrival. You may end up in a very precarious position trying to decide if the dog needs to be immediately rescued. We must reiterate that you are legally prohibited from breaking into the car. Legal ramifications will ensue if you decide to take the law into your own hands. You could potentially receive a ticket, a fine and even jail time. If you feel that you need to break into someone’s car to rescue their dog from their ignorance and negligence, you have to be prepared for the consequences.
So, as you can see there is not much protection currently on the books for animals that are left in parked cars on hot summer days. You can still play a part in keeping any animal in question safe right there on the spot. You can also advocate for stiffer laws and penalties regarding such negligence. What will you do?