It can be tempting to quickly run into a store or grab a bite to eat while leaving your furry friend in the car. But just like leaving children unattended in a vehicle, this can be dangerous, or even deadly, when it’s hot outside. 

The American Veterinary Medical Association states, “The temperature inside your vehicle can rise by almost 20º F in just 10 minutes, and nearly 30º F in 20 minutes. On a 75-degree day, the temperature inside of your vehicle can approach 100 degrees in a very short period of time! And that can create a serious medical situation or death for an animal left in the vehicle.  

Dogs and cats are susceptible to heatstroke. The ASPCA lists these as symptoms of overheating: 

  • Excessive panting or difficulty breathing  
  • Increased heart and respiratory rate  
  • Drooling 
  • Mild weakness  
  • Stupor  
  • Collapse
  • Seizures 
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees 

And some pets are at a higher risk. Animals with flat faces (such as pugs and Persian cats), young or elderly animals, and overweight pets are even more susceptible to heat stroke. 

In Maryland, leaving a pet in your vehicle in a way that endangers the animal is illegal. Law enforcement and other safety officers are authorized to use reasonable force to remove your pet from the vehicle. This means that you could suffer damage to your car and have to pay a fine on top of the repair costs. 

If you have to leave a pet in the vehicle when it’s hot out, bring along an adult companion to stay in the car with the animal. That way, you can leave the vehicle and air conditioning running while you dash into the store. 

If you see a pet left in a hot car, you can take down the vehicle information and do the following: 

  • Contact security guards or managers for any nearby businesses to make an announcement to find the vehicle owner. 
  • Call the non-emergency number of the local police department or animal control. 

Remember, it’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to the safety of animals. Animals are better left at home than left in a hot car.  Take steps to keep your own pets safe, and speak up if you see another animal in danger. Together, we can work to prevent tragedies caused by leaving animals in hot cars. 

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