Hot Dogs In Cars – A Cautionary Tale For Pet Owners

WARNING: Rant Ahead

I am the one by your dog, panicking.

Sometimes in the course of your day something happens that throws the entire trajectory off and your day is hijacked.

Yesterday, for example.

A casual conversation took place about dogs in hot cars and what you can and cannot do, and where you stand legally if you break the car window and how you need to photograph the dog in distress, and then use your phone to record the temperature before you take any action, and how some owners verbally attack those who actually intervene, and breaking the window of a car to extricate a dog can get you a lawsuit, and the police can’t always help you but a lawyer probably can, and you had better have one before you break that window.



To save a dog.

The discussion isn’t really about cat’s because cat’s generally don’t travel in cars as much and aren’t so much at risk.

But still this could be a cat discussion.

Interesting conversation but somewhat irrelevant I thought. I don’t usually see dogs in cars. I am too focused on whatever I am doing. Moving in my little bubble engrossed in thoughts on a much higher level, “where did I park the car?” “exactly how much milk is left” and other higher order thoughts usually mean that dogs and other occupants of vehicles are invisible. Until a nose is thrust out a widow and a yap starts or the attack dog barks so fiercely I drop my keys in shock with being caught off guard.

Until yesterday.

Coming out of a the grocery store, trying to get the food into the car around the bags of potting soil and other large items already occupying the space and not lose the vegetables… there it was.

A dog in the car across from me.



Parked far enough away from other cars that no one else was likely to see the little bundle of fluff.

With all the windows closed.

Looking quite anxious at me, back at the store, back at the parking lot, back at me, back at the store.

Not highly agitated, but intense.

It was 85° in the sun.

Not really panting or looking weak.

And the windows were closed and the car wasn’t running.

It probably hadn’t been there too long.

Then it hit me…….what do I do?

Ten minutes.

Ten minutes is all it takes. 

85°F in 10 minutes will give the car an internal temperature of 104°.

Maybe not certain death but definitely heading that way fast.

So what do you do?

The dog wasn’t passed out so clearly wasn’t about to die, but the situation would change rapidly if the owner didn’t come.

I didn’t want to be involved, there was a list of jobs that needed to be done, places to be, appointments.

So what do you do?

I sat in the car, backed out, drove to the exit, made a sharp turn before the exit, drove back, parked near the car and waited.

And agonized.

Dog is still looking quite anxious at me, back at the store, back at the parking lot, back at me, back at the store.

After 10 minutes no one had come and panic was creeping in.

So, in complete adultness called the store and reported what was going on. Assurances were given that an announcement would be made……it was a small grocery store…..and someone would come and check.

Waited another couple of minutes.

No owner, but a couple of staff were checking out the lot.

Satisfied that the situation was in the hands of the store and the dog wasn’t going to die that day I pondered the stupidity of the situation.

Why would anyone take the chance on running into a store for a few minutes (at this point it was over 12 minutes) and risk killing a beloved pet?

In the summer, in the heat?

Don’t these idiots know that sometimes lines are long?

Sometimes we run into friends?

Sometimes what we came for isn’t on the shelf and has to be retrieved from the back?

What if you trip and fall?

Have a heart attack?

Drop a jar of pickles on your foot?

Get caught up in sampling some products and get distracted?

You get a phone call?

What if????

So because you are so busy / important / thoughtless / distracted / just plain stupid this situation becomes my problem.

I am the one by your dog, panicking.

Agonizing who to call, or whether I should just break the window.

Going to spend the rest of my day feeling sick over what might have happened, or actually did.

So, please spare us all the agonizing and don’t leave your dog in the car, leave it at home. Yes, I know you have never done it before,  something came up, there was no one else. I understand. I have had emergencies, crisis  too, unexpected things, no one to help.

But if your misjudgment means you lose your dog / cat / bird / goldfish you won’t be happy.

Fido will be quite happy at home for a few hours if it means it gets to see tomorrow.

Rant over.

What are your thoughts?

What would you do?

Please spread the word to all your animal owning friends.

Raise awareness, share the dangers.

For more information:

Don’t Leave Your Pet In A Parked Car

WhatTo Do If You See A Pet In A Parked Car

Dogs In A Hot Car and On Hot Pavement