- Note the make/model of the vehicle, license plate number and its specific location. Note a description of the dog(s), and the condition of the dog(s), especially if any signs of distress are observed (see below). Also note the time.
- Call the local animal control agency, police or 911.
- Some locations, such as malls, amusement parks or casinos, will have on-site security that may be able to take action.
- Ask clerks at nearby stores/venues to make announcements using the vehicle's make/model to locate the dog's owner.
- If possible, return to the vehicle to monitor the dog's condition and help responding authorities locate the vehicle.
Signs an animal is in distress include:
- Excessive panting
- Excessive drooling
- Increased heart rate
- Trouble breathing
- Disorientation, stumbling or poor coordination
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Collapse or loss of consciousness
- Respiratory arrest
Dogs with short noses, such as pugs, are more easily prone to heat illness; as are dogs with thick coats, such as Siberian huskies and pomerianians.
At least 14 states and many municipalities have laws that specifically address the problem of animals left in cars in extreme temperatures. These laws often authorize law enforcement officials to enter a vehicle and remove the animal. Even states without these provisions may consider leaving an animal in an enclosed car to be animal cruelty. We recommend that aggressive action including entering a vehicle without an owner's permission be taken by authorities. Please keep in mind charges can be serious.
A dog in distress from hyperthermia is a medical emergency. Dogs rescued from hyperthermia should be taken to a veterinary clinic as soon as possible. In the meantime, remove the dog from the hot conditions and move the dog into a cooler, preferably air-conditioned, area. Wet the dog's coat with room temperature water. Aim a fan at the dog, or fan the dog manually with a paper. Do not force drinking.
The My Dog Is Cool Lesson Plan leverages concepts in biology, physics and math to help students discover why leaving dogs in hot cars is dangerous. Educators and teachers everywhere are invited to download our free lesson plan materials and use it in their own classrooms. Read more
Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper warning people about the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars. You can use our sample letter to the editor (Acrobat PDF) as a guide when writing to your local paper. Don't forget to check your paper's guidelines for restrictions on word length and other submission requirements.
In Spring of 2013, RedRover supporters everywhere organized My Dog Is Cool Action Day events in their own communities to raise awareness about the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars. Read more