6 min read

Here’s Why You Should Never Leave A Dog In A Hot Car

“Officers were in that car for 30 seconds and were struggling to breathe so goodness knows what these poor animals were going through.”

Locked in a car parked in the sun, two chocolate Labradors had no choice but to withstand the sweltering heat as temperatures climbed quickly. It was the hottest day of the year, and they had no idea when their owner would return.

When the York City, UK, police finally broke the driver's side window, the panting pups had been trapped in the parking lot for over half an hour.

Had help come just a few minutes later, the dogs might not have made it out alive.

There is no excuse for this, I am utterly appalled,”the York City police wrote on Twitter. “Officers were in that car for 30 seconds and were struggling to breathe so goodness knows what these poor animals were going through.”

The two dogs were immediately picked up by the RSPCA and rushed to a veterinarian where they were treated for heat exhaustion. The tired dogs were drooling, a sign of heatstroke, while they were given cooling baths.

During the summer months, this heartbreaking situation is all too common, the RSPCA stresses. Over the past two weeks, the animal welfare charity has received over 625 calls — about two calls an hour — regarding animals in hot environments, most of which were dogs left in cars.

And it’s only getting worse: On Monday, the day that the two Labradors were rescued, the RSPCA emergency hotline received 167 calls, one call every eight minutes.

Dog owners often underestimate just how quickly temperatures can rise within a car, and inadvertently put their pets in danger while running a “quick” errand.

“Cars heat up very rapidly in hot — or even warm — weather,” the RSPCA said in a press release. “Air conditioning can disguise the danger that a dog will face once the engine is turned off.”

Shade alone can't keep the heat out, and cracking a window isn't enough to cool down a car, even when it seems like a comfortable temperature outside.

What’s more, dogs don’t sweat like humans do.

“Unlike humans, dogs pant to help keep themselves cool,” the RSPCA said. “The effectiveness of panting is reduced at high temperatures and humidities.”

Death from overheating can occur within 10 minutes, and certain dogs are more susceptible to changes in temperatures than others: Heat can pose an even graver risk for senior and very young animals, dogs with heavy coats, dogs suffering from obesity or with underlying health issues, and flat-faced dogs.

Pet owners should never take a chance with their dog’s health, stresses Holly Barber, manager of the Dogs Die in Hot Cars campaign.

“People don’t believe it will happen to them or they tell themselves they’ll only be a minute, but it simply isn’t good enough,” Barber said in the press release. “We’re pleading with people not to take the risk and to leave their pets at home where they will be safe and happy.”

If you see a dog trapped in a hot car, look for signs of distress, such as excessive panting and drooling, vomiting, lethargy and unresponsiveness.

Before taking matters into your own hands, call 911 and alert authorities to the dog’s situation, then try to find the owner while you wait for help to arrive. Breaking into a hot car to free an animal may be treated as a criminal act, but a few states have Good Samaritan laws that may protect you. By spreading the word about the dangers of heat exhaustion, you can help save lives this summer.