Hot Cars Kill

LA State Law: Protection for Rescuers Helping Animals in Hot Cars

Helping Dogs with Heat Stroke

It’s summertime in Louisiana, and that means it’s miserably hot. It’s also a dangerous time for pets. Caregivers must take precautions to make sure that beloved animal companions aren’t needlessly hurt in the summer heat. Animal lovers need to help educate others to save the lives of animals, too. A good place to start is to educate others about the dangers of leaving animals unattended in vehicles in the summer heat.

Actually, leaving an animal unattended in a vehicle isn’t a good idea at any time of the year. We’ve investigated far too many cases of car thefts, where animals left in vehicles were never recovered or met a terrible fate. Leaving a companion animal locked in a car during hot weather, however, is particularly dangerous and cruel. Pets are highly vulnerable to heat-related illnesses, and their well-being should always be a priority for any responsible caregiver.

Dogs, like humans, are susceptible to heatstroke and can suffer from severe distress and even death if left in a hot car. Unlike humans, dogs have a limited ability to cool themselves down, since they primarily regulate their body temperature through panting. When a dog is trapped in a locked car with no ventilation, the temperature inside can rise rapidly, even on moderately warm days. This can lead to overheating, dehydration, organ failure, and ultimately, a painful and unnecessary death.

Open windows won’t keep a dog safe! In just 70 degree weather, the temperature inside of a car can reach 100 degrees in just 20 minutes. Dogs can experience heat exhaustion, when their body temperatures reach just 103 degrees. On very hot days, temperatures inside of a car can climb to 140 degrees in less than an hour.

Leaving dogs unattended in hot cars constitutes cruelty in our state, because it subjects animals to unnecessary suffering and distress. In fact, there is even a law to protect both law enforcement and public citizens who intervene to save pets suffering in hot cars. According to Louisiana Revised Statutes Title 37:1738.1, if several conditions are met, there shall be no liability for property damage done to a motor vehicle, in an attempt to rescue an animal from a hot car.

Many law enforcement officers, animal control and other officers are unaware of the fact that they have the authority to remove an animal from a vehicle if they have a reasonable belief that the animal’s life is in imminent danger. Please keep a copy of the law, which can be downloaded on the Humane Society of Louisiana website, so that you can help educate others. Also, know the law and don’t be afraid to act to save a life, once you have made every effort required by law to locate a dog’s owner and notify authorities in such circumstances.

While dogs are more commonly associated with being left in cars, it’s important to recognize that cats and other pets are also at risk of suffering severe consequences when subjected to high temperatures inside a vehicle. Cats, like dogs, are susceptible to heatstroke and can experience distress and life-threatening complications when trapped in a hot car. They, too, have limited means of regulating their body temperature, primarily relying on panting and seeking cooler environments to stay comfortable.

Other small pets, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, and reptiles, are also highly vulnerable to extreme temperatures. These animals may have even more limited means of cooling themselves down, compared to cats and dogs. They rely heavily on their people to provide appropriate environmental conditions and should never be left unattended in hot cars. The confined space, lack of ventilation, and direct exposure to sunlight can quickly turn a vehicle into a dangerously hot environment for these small ones, leading to suffering and potential fatalities.

Spread the word and help save a life: leaving any animal companion locked in a hot car is inhumane and can result in severe health consequences and even death. It is essential for pet owners to understand the risks involved and to take appropriate measures to ensure the safety and comfort of their animals. Animals deserve our care and attention, and leaving them unattended in hot cars is a clear violation of their rights and can lead to devastating outcomes. Please feel free to download any of our informational brochures and share with others who need to be educated on this topic!