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What should you do if you see a dog in a hot car?

Humane Society warns against leaving animals in parked vehicles

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(Getty Images)

ORLANDO, Fla. – It's not uncommon for temperatures to soar into the triple digits in Florida, and inside a parked vehicle, it gets even hotter.

The scorching heat can cause problems for any pet that's left inside a parked car, even if it's just for a short period of time. The Humane Society warns that this practice is not only dangerous, but could be deadly if it gets hot enough. 

[RELATED: Here's how hot temperatures can get in your car]

So what should you do if you see an animal left alone inside a locked car on a hot day? The animal welfare organization has some steps you should follow:

  • Write down the vehicle's make, model and license plate number. If there are businesses nearby, have them page the owner to return to the vehicle and unlock their pet.
  • If the owner can't be found, call the local police agency's non-emergency line to alert them to the situation. Wait for emergency officials to arrive so the animal is never left alone.
  • Florida politicians passed a law in 2016 that allows bystanders to break the window of a vehicle to rescue a pet or vulnerable person believed to be in danger from the heat. Before taking that step, the bystander must have made sure the door wasn't unlocked, contacted authorities and they must believe that the person or animal inside is in imminent danger. Signs of heat stress include panting, glazed eyes, unsteadiness and vomiting.
  • Once the animal is out of the car, gradually lower its temperature. Take it to an air conditioned area and lightly sprinkle it with cool water. Do not soak the animal in water, because that could cause the temperature to drop too low. Cool, wet towels can be placed on the back of the neck, in the armpits and in the groin area.
  • Offer the animal water, but don't force it to drink.
  • Get the animal to a veterinarian as quickly as possible. Call ahead to make sure a vet is available to immediately provide treatment.

For more information on exactly how hot it can get inside a vehicle, click here.


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