RICHMOND, Va. – As summer temperatures continue to rise, it is important to remember that you should never leave your pet in your vehicle, even if the windows are not rolled up.
Hanover County Animal Control is reminding all citizens that leaving your pet in your vehicle for even a few minutes on sunny days can be critical to them.
“A pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke when trapped in these high temperatures,” said Jeffrey S. Parker, Chief of Hanover County Animal Control.
The temperature inside a vehicle can rise almost 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. In 20 minutes, it can rise almost 30 degrees, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. On a sunny day, the temperature in a parked car can reach a temperature of 120 degrees in minutes, even with the car window partially open.
“A pet can die in only a few minutes if left in a car even with the windows rolled down,” warned Parker. “Bring them inside or leave them at home, but don’t leave them in a car.”
In addition, experts say parking in the shade offers little protection, as the sun shifts during the day.
Leaving a pet in a vehicle on warm days is against the law by Va. Code. Ann. § 3.2-6503, failure to provide adequate care to a companion animal. It the animal dies, it may also be considered Cruelty to Animals, which is a felony and could lead to jail time and/or a fine.
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.
Hanover County Animal Control will be patrolling certain areas including parking lots looking for pets and other living things that may be in heat distress because of being left in vehicles.
Here are some tips for taking care of your pet in hot weather:
- Don’t force your pet to exercise after a meal in hot, humid weather. Exercise it in the early morning or evening, and keep walks to a minimum.
- Never leave your dog standing on hot asphalt. Its body can heat up quickly and sensitive paw pads can burn.
- Do not take an animal to the beach unless you can provide a shaded spot and plenty of freshwater. Rinse it off after it has been in saltwater.
- Owners shall provide plenty of shade and a well-constructed doghouse that does not conduct heat for animals staying outside. Bring your dog inside during the hottest part of the day, and make sure it has plenty of cool water. Keep cats indoors.
- Be extra sensitive to old and overweight animals in hot weather. Snub-nosed dogs such as Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston Terriers, Lhasa Apso, and Shih Tzu, as well as those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.