It’s natural to want to take your dog or cat with you when you go on a long road trip, spend a day at the beach, or simply run errands around town. After all, pets are an important part of the family, and it wouldn’t be the same to do these things without them.
However, driving with a pet can lead to some dangerous situations, particularly when you have to enter a store, restaurant, or other establishment where animals are not allowed. You may be tempted to just crack the windows and take care of your business while Fido hangs out in the car, but this is an extremely risky move that should be avoided when the weather warms up. Consider the following:
- Even with the windows cracked, it takes mere minutes for the temperature inside a parked vehicle to surpass 100 degrees on an 85-degree day.
- Your parked car is not safer for your pet just because you’ve had the air conditioner on recently. As soon as you turn the AC off to go inside, the interior temperature will immediately begin to rise.
- While cooling pet products (such as the Hound Cooler Pet Bed) do provide comfort in hot conditions, they do not reduce the dangers of heat stroke or death under such extreme conditions as leaving your pet in a locked car. These products are meant to provide cooling in survivable conditions only, where there is sufficient air-flow for ventilation and preferably access to shade or cover.
- You never know what might happen to delay you on your errand. Something you thought would take only a few minutes could suddenly end up taking twenty or more, causing your pet to suffer.
Despite the well-known dangers of leaving pets in parked vehicles in hot weather, thousands of owners do it every year – usually because they are merely not aware of the real risks. If you come across a dog or cat in obvious distress in a locked vehicle, please take action using one or more of the following suggestions:
- If you witness someone begin to leave their dog in a locked car, offer to hold the dog on its leash outside the car while the owner completes their errand.
- If the car is in a parking lot, you can ask customer service/the front desk of nearby buildings to make an announcement for the owner to return to their car.
- You can call the local Humane enforcement, police, or animal control authorities (be ready to give the make, model, color, and license plate of the car).
- If you do not know the number for local or specialized authorities, PETA recommends that you call 911 to report the offense and wait on the scene until responders arrive.
- Be aware of any local, state, and federal laws that may outlaw “reasonable force” by civilians (such as breaking into a car to rescue a pet in distress) prior to attempting rescue.
It’s perfectly possible for you to enjoy car trips with pets in warm or hot weather. Just make sure you do so responsibly by never leaving a dog or cat alone in a parked vehicle. As a general rule, if you or a child would be uncomfortable or at risk due to the temperature, so would your pet.