Veterinarians warn residents not to leave pets in hot cars

RICHMOND, Va. — As the temperatures heat up this week, it is important to remember to keep your pets comfortable.

In the heat, pets can suffer from heat stroke, especially when either tethered outside with no escape from the heat or sun, or when left in hot cars.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the temperature inside a vehicle can rise almost 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. In 20 minutes, it can rise almost 30 degrees.

Cracking windows for a pet has very little effect on the temperature rise inside a vehicle, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

According to The American Animal Hospital Association, signs that a pet is overheating include excessive panting and drooling, difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, weakness, stupor or collapsing, seizures, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting.

Short-nosed animals, such as pugs, boxers, and bulldogs are more susceptible to heat stroke than long-nosed pets, as they are less effective at panting.

Leaving a pet in a vehicle on warm days can be against the law by Va. Code. Ann. § 3.2-6503, failure to provide adequate care to a companion animal. It may also be considered Cruelty to Animals under Virginia Code § 3.2-6570.

Virginia law allows law enforcement officers, animal control officers, firefighters, and emergency responders to break into vehicles to rescue pets at risk of serious injury or death. Rescuing officers will not be held liable in civil lawsuits for property damage unless actions amounted to “gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct.”

If you see an animal at risk of injury or death, call 911 and record the car’s make, model, and license plate number.