Heatwave: Watch Out for Pets

Los Angeles, CA – Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA) urges all pet companions to take preventative measures to protect their pets during this weekend’s heatwave. Keep pets inside, make sure they have access to plenty of drinking water, and NEVER leave pets inside the car, even for a minute.

Read on for tips to protect your pets and what to do if you see a pet locked in a vehicle.

Protect your pets:

  • Water to prevent dehydration: Plenty of clean, cool drinking water is a must at all times.
  • Protection from the sun: If your pet must stay in the yard, instead of the cool indoors, be sure he has adequate shade and ventilation with plenty of drinking water in a tip-proof bowl.
  • Emergency Care: If a pet is overcome by heat (detected by excessive panting, is heavily salivating, and/or immobile) immerse him slowly in cool water to lower his body temperature, then contact a veterinarian. Never immerse a pet in ice cold water, it may cause him shock.
  • Keep Pets Groomed: Clip long or matted coats short to help your pet stay cool. Remember that pets, like people, can get sunburned and coats should not be TOO short.
  • Health Check: Carefully go over your pet’s body at least once a week to check for fleas, ear mites and tiny bumps or cuts. Bring your pet to the vet for a summer check-up and use a good flea and tick repellent recommended by your vet.
  • Fleas: Fleas need to be attacked on three fronts: on the pet, in the home and in the yard.
  • Exercise: Exercise pets in the morning or evening when it’s cooler.
  • Prevent Burns: Dog pads burn easily, so avoid hot surfaces such as asphalt on hot days.
  • Identification: With the hotter weather, families and their pets are outside more often, increasing the chances of a pet getting lost. Make sure your pets always wear proper identification.
  • Park your pet at home: Never leave your pet in a parked car, not even for five minutes. It could cost him his life. The temperature in a parked car can soar to 160 degrees within minutes, even with the windows left slightly open.

What to do if you see an animal in distress in a locked car.

If the animal is in imminent danger and law enforcement cannot respond in time, you may proceed in freeing the animal. But, before you do, you must do and be prepared to do the following:

  • Make sure the vehicle is locked, and there’s no other reasonable way to remove the animal from the vehicle
  • Reasonably believe that the animal is in imminent danger if not removed IMMEDIATELY from the vehicle
  • Contact a local law enforcement agency, the fire department, animal control, or the “911” emergency service 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 a peace officer, humane officer, animal control officer, or another emergency responder arrives
  • Use no more force to enter the vehicle and remove the animal from the vehicle than is necessary under the circumstance
  • Immediately turn the animal over to a representative from law enforcement, animal control, or another emergency responder who responds to the scene
  • In accordance with the Right to Rescue Act, citizens are protected from criminal penalties when they act to free a pet in immediate danger from a locked vehicle, if they act within the law. Once the animal is freed, you must hand it over to law enforcement or animal control.

Other things to consider:

Is the dog in distress, or just locked in a car? Is the dog ok, or is he exhibiting signs of distress such as excessive panting, lethargy?

  • Take into consideration interior color of car, whether in shade, time of day, and condition of animal.
  • It has been suggested that if you are going to take action and break a window, protect yourself by taking a screenshot of current temperature and photos/video of act to protect yourself.
  • If you are going to free an animal from a locked car, do you have a method of containing the animal? (leash, collar, carrier) The animal will likely be scared and could bolt into oncoming traffic.

Use an abundance of caution in approaching a pet in a vehicle you are a stranger entering his or her territory.