Dogs can die when they are left alone in a hot car by their owners even when they think they will be gone for just a quick minute. In most of the U.S. we are in the hottest part of the summer. Here in the Fort Lauderdale area of South Florida, temperatures can reach as high as 90 degrees. The American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) has a chart on their website that charts how long it takes for the air temperatures to rise in a closed vehicle. If an average day in Fort Lauderdale is about 75-80 degrees in the summer, in ten minutes the air temperature in a closed vehicle might reach 99 degrees. There is a YouTube video where a veterinarian filmed himself sitting in a hot car on a 95-degree day. The car’s temperature had reached 117F after sitting in the sun for 30 minutes even with the windows cracked, A dog can die of heatstroke in 15 minutes in a hot car.
On the 4th of July in Boynton Beach, the Police rescued a dog that was locked inside of a hot vehicle and posted the video on Facebook. The officers said that it was easily 110 degrees inside of that car when they got the dog out. An officer used his baton to break the back window after going into the store, but unable to find the dog’s owner. After 10 or 15 minutes, the owner appeared, and the police issued her a citation for leaving her dog unattended in a vehicle according to news sources.
New Florida law allows citizens to break into hot cars to rescue children or pets
Last year, Florida Governor Rick Scott passed a law (HB 131) which would grant immunity from civil liability for the damage to a vehicle caused by rescuing a domestic animal or person who is believed to be in imminent danger of suffocation or heatstroke from locked in a hot car. You may be immune from civil liability for breaking into a car to rescue a person or domestic pet if you are sure to do the following:
• First, make sure that the vehicle is locked
• Have a reasonable belief that the person or pet is in imminent danger of suffering harm
• Call 911 immediately before or immediately after breaking into the vehicle
• Use the least amount of force necessary to break into the vehicle
• Remain on the scene with the person, child or animal until first-responders arrive
If you cannot bring your pet into the place where you are going, you are better off leaving them safe at home.
Additional hazards of pets in vehicles
The AMVA warns that heatstroke is not the only danger having pets in your vehicle can cause. Having a smaller pet loose to move about the vehicle could get crushed if the airbags deploy and they are on your lap, or even worse get thrown through the windshield or ejected from the vehicle in a sudden crash. Having your pet loose in your vehicle can distract you from keeping your attention on the road and cause you to get into a crash. Never let your dog ride in the bed of your pickup truck unless they are in a secured, ventilated kennel. Keeping your pet restrained in the vehicle helps them to feel secure, protects them in the event of a crash, and allows you to focus on the task of driving.
If you or someone you care about has sustained a serious injury because of the negligence of another person, we invite you to phone us at (800) TELL-SAM to talk with a caring lawyer.