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Denver Animal Protection Warns Residents About Dangers of Leaving Pets Unattended in Hot Vehicles

As temperatures across Denver are expected to hit the high 80s today, Denver Animal Protection is reminding residents of the dangers of leaving pets unattended in hot vehicles.

Since the beginning of 2018, DAP has received 135 calls regarding dogs left inside vehicles during extreme temperatures. Leaving your pet in an overheated car could result in a summons for animal cruelty, which can result in a fine of up to $999 and/or 300 days in jail.

“Temperatures inside of a vehicle can reach 120F in a matter of minutes, even with the windows cracked,” says Alice Nightengale, Director of Denver Animal Protection. “The best way to keep your pet safe during the blisteringly hot temperatures is to leave your pet at home.”

To better illustrate the physical stress pets in hot cars experience, DAP created a 20-minute video showing how humans respond to the same conditions.

DAP also offers the following tips for protecting your pet from the summer heat:

  • Do not transport animals in pick-up truck beds. It is illegal to let dogs ride loose in pick-up truck beds, and hot metal can also burn their paws, and exposure to the direct sunlight can be just as harmful as has being left in an enclosed vehicle.
  • Ensure pets are groomed. An unkept coat can keep an animal from properly regulating its temperature.
  • Avoid excess exercise with your pet when it’s hot outside.
  • Be mindful of hot pavement that can burn your pet’s feet.  
  • Provide adequate shelter from the elements, as well as access to fresh water. Denver city ordinance requires that pets have adequate outdoor shelter such as a dog house, porch area, or a similar structure that allows an animal to escape the elements.

If you see a dog in a hot car immediately call 311 and familiarize yourself with the Good Samaritan law that provides legal immunity for people who break a car window to save an animal. However, to ensure immunity:

  • You must believe the animal is in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury.
  • The vehicle must be locked.
  • You must make a ‘reasonable effort’ to find the vehicle’s owner.
  • You must contact Denver Police Department, Denver Fire Department or DAP before you enter the vehicle.
  • You cannot use more force than is necessary to free the animal.
  • If you do break a window, you must remain with the animal and on the scene until police or DAP officers arrive.