Leaving pets locked in cars is never safe. But when the weather gets warmer, it can be deadly. High temperatures can cause irreparable organ damage and even death. As the chart below shows, the temperature inside an automobile with the windows closed can exceed 100○ after 30 minutes even if the outside temperature is just 70○. According to The Humane Society, “cracking” the windows by rolling them down a little bit has been shown to have little effect on the temperature inside a car. Pet owners who leave pets locked inside overheated vehicles may be subject to animal neglect and cruelty charges.
If you see an animal trapped inside a locked car, The Humane Society recommends copying down the car’s make, model, and license plate number. Because most cases of animals being left in cars happen at retail locations, it is best to notify managers or security guards at nearby businesses and ask them to make an announcement to find the car’s owner. Many people are unaware of the danger of leaving pets in a hot car and will quickly return to the vehicle once alerted to the situation. If the owner can’t be found, call 911 and wait by the car for the police or animal control to arrive. Pennsylvania does not have “Good Samaritan” laws for pets, so any attempt to break into a car to rescue an animal may result in penalties and criminal prosecution.