What To Do When You See a Pet Inside a Hot Car

We see it every summer. Pets needlessly dying because of a bad decision by it’s owner to leave them in a hot car on a warm Spring or Summer Day.

The Humane Society has these tips on what to do if you encounter a pet in a hot car:

  • Take down the car’s make, model and license plate number.

  • If there are businesses nearby, notify their managers or security guards and ask them to make an announcement to find the car’s owner. Many people are unaware of the danger of leaving pets in hot cars and will quickly return to their vehicle once they are alerted to the situation.

  • If the owner can’t be found, call the non-emergency number of the local police or animal control and wait by the car for them to arrive. In several states, good Samaritans can legally remove animals from cars under certain circumstances, so be sure to know the laws in your area and follow any steps required.

It should be noted that Illinois appears to be a state where only a law enforcement officer, after having attempted to locate the person responsible, has the right to break into a car to save a pet. That’s just my non-lawyery understanding of it, though. I’m no expert! Here is IL law 510 ILCS 70/7.1:

No owner or person shall confine any animal in a motor vehicle in such a manner that places it in a life or health threatening situation by exposure to a prolonged period of extreme heat or cold, without proper ventilation or other protection from such heat or cold. In order to protect the health and safety of an animal, an animal control officer, law enforcement officer, or Department investigator who has probable cause to believe that this Section is being violated shall have authority to enter such motor vehicle by any reasonable means under the circumstances after making a reasonable effort to locate the owner or other person responsible.
A person convicted of violating this Section is guilty of a Class C misdemeanor.
A second or subsequent violation is a Class B misdemeanor.

The City of Naperville has it’s own ordinances regarding leaving pets inside cars:

It’s important to comprehend the severity of the situation by recognizing how quickly temperatures rise inside a parked car, even when it may not seem excessively hot outside:

At 72 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature inside a car can reach 116 degrees Fahrenheit within an hour. At 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature inside a car can soar to 99 degrees Fahrenheit within just 10 minutes.

Rolling down the windows has been shown to have minimal effect on reducing the internal temperature of a car, emphasizing the urgent need to take action when pets are left unattended in vehicles.

If you must travel with your pet, please take every caution to ensure his/her safety!