Summer is almost officially here, and with that comes the hot weather. With every heat wave comes to debate about leaving our pets in cars and how to handle these situations.
As a member of the Paws on Patrol volunteer group with the Elk Grove Police Department, we received the following information:
Recent changes in California law allow for citizens to remove an animal from a vehicle under certain circumstances, these would include animals being left unattended during certain weather conditions. However, allowing local authorities to assess the animal is the recommended plan of action. They have received extensive training and have experience related to animals overheating.
If action must be taken to prevent further suffering or death of an animal the law requires you to:
- Check to see if the vehicle doors are locked.
- Have a good faith belief that forcible entry is needed because the animal is in imminent danger of suffering harm if it is not immediately removed from the vehicle, and, based upon the circumstances known to the person at the time, the belief is a reasonable one.
- You must contact local authorities, i.e. Animal Control, Fire Department, Police, etc. prior to forcibly entering the vehicle.
- Remain with the animal in a safe location, out of the elements but reasonably close to the vehicle, until an animal control, police officer, or other first aid responder arrives.
- Use no more force than reasonably necessary to enter the vehicle and remove the animal.
- You must immediately turn over the animal to an animal control representative or law enforcement official.
Animals can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes. Beating the heat is extra tough for dogs because they can only cool themselves by panting and by sweating through their paw pads.
If you see an animal left alone in a hot car, take down the car’s color, model, make, and license plate number. Call 916-714-5111 and have someone keep an eye on the animal. Don’t leave the scene until the situation has been resolved.
If the animal is removed please provide water to drink, and if possible spray the animal down with cool water. If you can place the animal inside a vehicle with the air condition on if waiting for animal control or police to arrive. Be careful not to use ice or cold water, and don’t overcool the animal.