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dog drinking from water bottle 

decorativeNever leave a dog (or any animal) in a hot car. Leaving a dog in a car for “just a minute” may be too long.


  • On a warm day, the temperature inside of a vehicle can reach 120°F in a matter of minutes – even with the windows cracked.
  • Because dogs don’t sweat, they can’t cool themselves. Their body temperature can rise quickly and they could suffer brain damage, organ damage, or even die from heatstroke or suffocation.



  • Immediately call 3-1-1 or 720-913-1311 to report.
  • Note the description of the vehicle, license plate number, specific vehicle location and description of the pet.
  • Familiarize yourself with Colorado’s Good Samaritan Law to know when you can intervene.



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.

Leaving an animal in a hot vehicle constitutes animal cruelty (per Sec. 8-131 of the Denver County Ordinance) & could result in a fine of up to $999 and/or up to 300 days in jail.

If your pet must be removed from your vehicle, your window may be broken, your vehicle could be towed, and you could be responsible for emergency medical costs for your pet – in addition to a cruelty and neglect charge.

Additional Resources

Do you want to help spread the word about the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars? Download the Denver Dogs in Hot Cars informational flyer in English or Spanish.

If you're looking for a visual graphic to share with your friends and colleagues, print a copy of our Dogs in Hot Cars poster

Our Dogs in Hot Cars program is adapted from the national My Dog is Cool campaign created by the group RedRover. For more information about this campaign visit

Dogs in Hot Cars tips and facts flyer

alert graphic with snowflakes

Ideally, the best way to protect pets from extreme temperatures is to avoid long-term outdoor exposure. However, if pets have to be outside for longer durations, Denver city ordinance requires that pets have adequate outdoor shelter such as a dog house or a similar structure that allows the animal to escape the elements. Further insulating the shelter or adding a “doggie door” to a garage or covered area adds another layer of protection from the cold.

Additional tips include:

  • When pets come in from the outdoors, remove snow, ice, salt other ice treatment chemicals from their coats and paws. This will not only keep them dry, but will also prevent them from ingesting the chemicals.
  • Check for cracks in paw pads or redness between toes. Massaging petroleum jelly into paw pads before going outside can help protect from salt and chemical agents. Booties provide protection from irritation. Use pet-friendly ice melts whenever possible.
  • Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather.
  • Don’t leave dangerous and potentially lethal chemicals like snow and ice remover or anti-freeze within your pet’s reach.
  • Check under the hood of outdoor vehicles before starting them up. Stray cats often look for refuge in warm engines.
  • Don’t shave your dog down to the skin in the winter as a longer winter coat will provide more warmth. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting a coat or sweater.
  • Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in the wintertime. Feeding your pet a little bit more during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories. Ensure they also have plenty of water to help keep them hydrated and to prevent dry skin.

Denver Animal Protection always reminds residents to ensure pets are protected from the elements. Failing to do so could have dire consequence for pets and result in a Cruelty to Animals or Animal Neglect charge, up to a $999 fine and/or a year in jail for the owner. Here is some additional information about Denver’s Animal Protection ordinances.

dog holding leash in mouthDenver's leash laws are intended to protect the health and safety of all people and pets that enjoy our city’s parks and open areas. However, even “good” dogs and owners need to obey leash laws.

While pups are free to run and roam in designated dog parks, here are the top five reasons why you should keep your dogs on leash in public spaces:

  1. It’s the law: Even gentle, well-behaved and well-trained dogs are required to remain on a leash and under the control of their owners in public spaces. Pet owners who violate this ordinance are subject to a fine.
  2.  Protect your dog: Even if a dog has perfect recall, an owner cannot control the world around them. An unleashed dog could be attacked by another animal (including wildlife that might spread disease) or struck by a motor vehicle. The leash is there to protect your dog from the world as much as it’s there to protect the world from your dog.
  3. Parks are full temptations: Owners just can’t predict what their unleashed dogs may encounter in park or public space: bicyclists, barbeques, an un-spayed female dog, a rambunctious child, SQUIRREL! There are lots of doggie distractions in our neighborhoods that could cause unpredictable reactions in dogs; leashing keeps everyone safe.
  4. Liability: Bad things are simply more likely to happen when dogs run loose, and owners are liable for their dog’s actions. A leash provides emergency control over your pet. A court may determine that letting a dog off leash is reckless. So, if something goes wrong, an owner could find themselves in legal hot water over a bite, property damage, etc.
  5. Setting a good example: Many people think it is okay to let their dogs off leash because they see other people doing it. However, dogs running loose aren’t good for anyone. Set a good example as a responsible pet owner and keep your furry family members leashed.

But what if your good boys and girls need to run and play? Luckily, Denver offers many dog parks throughout the city. Before visiting a designated dog park, please keep the following in mind:

  • Dog parks are open from sunrise to sundown, seven days a week.
  • Dogs must be spayed or neutered, or have a current Denver Intact Permit (Denver residents).
  • Dogs must have current rabies and Denver dog license.
  • Dog owners must dispose of their dog’s feces properly and immediately.

When at the dog park, supervise your dog at all times. Make sure that you are able to call them away from anything, if needed. Always keep a leash handy so that if your unleashed dog is making other people or dogs uncomfortable (or your pet is stressed by others), you can readily remove them from the situation.

Thanks for helping make Denver a place where all people and animals can live better and thrive!

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1241 W. Bayaud Ave.
Denver, CO  80223
3-1-1 or 720-913-1311


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