Leaving the windows open just a few inches is simply not adequate. We've all heard periodic tragic news reports this summer of animals, especially dogs, being left in cars and dying from heat stroke. It only takes 10 minutes for the interior of a car to heat to 102 degrees on an 85 degree day, and 30 minutes to heat to 120 degrees according to the ASPCA.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger signed legislation in 2006 (see 10news.com) making it illegal in California to leave pets alone in a hot car. An officer can remove a pet from a closed car in dangerous conditions. According to the Aspca blog, "at least 14 states and many municipalities have enacted laws to address the problem of animals left in cars in extreme temperatures. Under these laws, police, animal control agents, peace officers and others may be authorized to enter a vehicle by whatever means necessary to remove an animal."
It's still important to call law enforcement or animal control even if your state doesn't have a specific law addressing animals left in hot cars according to Jill Buckley, Senior Director of ASPCA Government Relations and Mediation. "It may be considered animal cruelty under your state or local laws.”
Try to find the animal's guardian if you see it in a closed or almost closed car on a warm day. The first priority is to get the dog out. Don't place yourself in danger in the process -- call local law enforcement or animal control.
The ASPCA has a flyer titled, Pets in Hot Cars flyer that you can distribute to help educate people about the dangers of leaving pets in hot cars. You can print and distribute these flyers here.