It’s no secret that the weather in Arizona can be hot. Yet every year, local animal rescue services are alerted of pets that have been left alone in vehicles in dangerous weather.
In fact, it doesn’t even need to be hot outside for the temperature inside a car to rise to lethal levels. The “greenhouse effect” can cause the interior to climb to 104 degrees within 30 minutes on a 70-degree day, according to Heat Kills. Sometimes, it’s up to good Samaritans to save the lives of animals who’ve been left to swelter while their owners run errands.
So if you see a pet trapped in a car and you’re worried about its wellbeing, what should you do?
While many animal lovers say they’d break into a vehicle to save a pet in distress and face the consequences later, thanks to a new state law, rescuers won’t have to worry about fines or jail time.
Bill HB2494, which was supported by local advocacy groups like the Arizona Humane Society, was made into a law last year. This legislation aims to eliminate hot car deaths by empowering good Samaritans to save innocent lives by protecting them from consequences. (This law also applies to children, too.)
Of course, a short protocol must be followed in order to lawfully save a pet or a child that appears to be stuck in a hot car. The Arizona Humane Society outlines the steps in this document, which reads:
- The rescuer has a good faith belief that the confined child or pet is in imminent danger of suffering physical injury or death unless they are removed from the vehicle.
- The rescuer determines the car is locked or there is no reasonable manner in which the person can remove the child or pet.
- Before entering the vehicle, the rescuer notifies the proper authorities
- The rescuer does not use more force than is necessary under the circumstances to enter the vehicle.
- The rescuer remains with the child or pet until the authorities arrive.
While anyone who sees a dog in a car should act fast, it’s helpful to know the signs of heat stroke to help determine the severity of the situation. Concerned citizens can call their local police or the Arizona Animal Rescue Services for assistance.
While any animal advocate would save a life no matter the cost, it’s encouraging to know that the law is on your side, should you find yourself in this situation. Hot car deaths are completely preventable, and hopefully laws like this will help put an end to these unnecessary tragedies.