How to Stop Dogs from Dying in Hot Cars


Eloisa Asuncion Zapata was arrested on April 3, 2010 and is facing charges of animal cruelty and animal endangerment. Zapata allegedly left her dog alone in her parked car – although police attempted to save the shepherd mix, their efforts reportedly came too late and the comatose dog was ultimately euthanized.

“Hot car” dog fatalities are needless and all-too-common. While humans cool themselves by relying on an extensive system of sweat glands and evaporation, the cooling mechanisms of dogs and other animals are much less efficient and leave them extremely vulnerable to heatstroke. Parked automobiles quickly trap the sun’s heat with interior temperatures rising to dangerous levels in a matter of minutes, and “cracking the windows” does not remove the danger of heatstroke. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office launched a public awareness campaign on this issue last year, education being the key to lessening the frequency of these cruel and pointless deaths.

What You Can Do

  1. Discover which state laws and city/county ordinances in your jurisdiction address leaving animals unattended in vehicles. This issue may be addressed specifically or by way of general abuse/neglect statutes (for example, from Oregon: ORS 167.325).
    Find your state’s current animal protection laws (doing a word search for “vehicle” is helpful)
  2. Help your county and your local humane agencies to make the public aware of these laws by distributing flyers, asking your local newspapers to do a story on the problem, and encouraging your Department of Motor Vehicles to educate drivers on the issue of children and animals left unattended in vehicles.
    Find “Hot Car” literature and other resources
    Find your local animal protection organizations
    Find your local newspapers
    Find your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles
  3. Let your local authorities know that ALDF’s Criminal Justice Program attorneys offer training and resources to law enforcement agents on this and other animal law issues.
  4. Where necessary, approach your legislators toward specifically addressing the “hot car” problem and enabling emergency rescues.
    Find your local legislators
    Work with your legislators toward improving animal protection laws
    Get Political for Animals and Win the Laws They Need by Julie Lewin


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