So I deal with a lot of dog in car calls in my line of work.  I also have a beloved animal that I would never ever let intentionally suffer. And of course, I do a lot of volunteer work the local SPCA. Considering the temps outside here today, I thought I’d pass along some helpful info. 

First, it is OK to leave your dog in your car in some circumstances. Second, it is NOT OK to leave your dog in your car inmost circumstances. 

Just follow a few basic rules and you and your beloved pet will be good.

1) Always make plans that do not include having to leave an animal alone in a vehicle for more than a few minutes. If you plan accordingly, the likelihood of you putting your pet in danger will be very low. (Going into Safeway to shop for an hour or two is NOT a good example.)

2) When deciding if it is ok to leave your animal in your car for a short period of time, add 20 degrees to the temperature outside. If you would leave a child in the same temp and be ok, even for 15 mins, then it is ok for your pet. [1]The caveat is if you’re stupid enough to leave a child in an obviously too hot car for 15 mins or longer, don’t breed or own a pet.

3) If you are ever in doubt, don’t do it. If it is that close in your mind, error on the side of your beloved pet and don’t do it.

On the flip side, what should you do if you are concerned about an animal left in a vehicle?

1) Vehicles are not air-tight. Even if the window is rolled up, the animal is in ZERO danger of suffocating. I hear this one a lot. While it may contribute to a given situation, it is not enough to cause disress on it’s own. 

2) Unless you know of a specific ordinance in your area that indemnifies you from harm, you are not exempt from liability if you break into a strange vehicle. Committing a crime to right a crime doesn’t protect you. You should call your local non-emergency police number or animal care agency for guidance. They will in return make the necessary response or referrals. 

3) While you personally may not like it, legal conditions for ‘in distress‘ have to be met before drastic action can be taken. Again, make an effort to know local ordinances or use option 2 above. An excited/barking/whimpering animal is not enough on it’s own to be considered in distress. In very general terms, ‘distress‘ means the animal is in danger of injury or death if no one acts to intervene. 

If you have ever hopped into a baking hot car, you know from experience, it is not a comfortable feeling. Do not inflict such punishment on your companions. They are defenseless against such things and depend soley on you for their care. 


1 The caveat is if you’re stupid enough to leave a child in an obviously too hot car for 15 mins or longer, don’t breed or own a pet.