What to Do if You Find a Pet in a Hot Car

June 10, 2016 12:15pm


A conversation on NextDoor surfaced recently as it does around this time every year – if you see a pet in a hot car can you break in to save it? You might be surprised to know that that answer is no.

“While we certainly appreciate that community members may be willing to take extraordinary measures to protect Seattle’s animals, Washington state law (RCW 16.52.340) specifies that only “an animal control officer or law enforcement officer … is authorized to remove an animal by any means necessary” under certain circumstances,” said Cindy Wilder a spokesperson for Seattle Animal Shelter.

Wilder encourages people that find an animal in a car or are concerned about the animal’s well being to call the Seattle Animal Shelter at 386-PETS (7387). At that point the Shelter will dispatch their officers and will request assistance from the Seattle Police Department to enter the vehicle, if necessary. Seattle Animal Shelter responds seven days a week (excluding holidays), from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. If someone finds an animal in distress outside of those hours they should call 911.

The Seattle Animal Shelter offers the following tips for protecting pets during hot weather:

  • Never leave your animal tethered or kenneled in direct sunlight. Provide a shady area for retreat, such as a dog house, porch or shady tree, and always provide access to plenty of cool water.
  • If you leave animals indoors, open the screened windows, keep a fan running, provide plenty of water, and if possible, leave them in a cool location.
  • Never leave dogs or cats unattended in a closed, locked vehicle. Animals do not perspire like humans; they cool themselves by panting. Vinyl, leather and even cloth seats in vehicles get hot under animals’ feet and prevent them from perspiring through their paws.
  • If you must travel with your pet, carry water. If a trip requires you leave your pet in the car at any point, think about saving that for another day. It’s not worth the risk.
  • Avoid overexerting your animal in hot weather. Exercise is fine when taken in moderation, but obesity, old age, underlying disease and previous bouts of heat stroke can predispose an animal to the condition.
  • For birds, take caution and place the bird’s cage away from direct sunlight during the intense heat of the afternoon. Provide water and fruits and vegetables with high moisture content.