All About Marie

Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register from 1992-2016; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor/Co-host of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 19 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of two baby boys and one baby girl, and pet parent of two cats, one dog, many fish, and a cockatoo.

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Dog Left in Parked Car

Dear Marie:
I am so angry. I just met one of the most ignorant people on the planet! Let me explain. I was at Westminster Mall and as I was walking from my car to the shops, I noticed a figure in one of the parked cars. It was moving back and forth frantically and as I got closer, I saw it was a big old black lab. The car was black too and I could tell the poor dog was sweltering. The car was parked in direct sun and the windows were cracked 1/4” if that. I’d say the outdoor weather was about 75 degrees, but I am sure it was significantly hotter in the car. At least it wasn't as hot as it was last week. But it was still hot! The dog was panting hard and looked like he was really not doing well. I was going to find the mall security people when right at
that moment, a young man came to the car. He asked me what I was doing and I could barely hold back! I tried to tell him how irresponsible it was of him to leave his dog in the parked car but he just got mad at me, used a few expletives and told me to mind my own business as he drove away, squealing his tires. I guess my question is this....if I felt the dog was in danger, could I have broken a window to get him out without
getting into trouble?

Dear Janis,
I don’t blame you for being angry. So often, people leave their pets in exactly these circumstances even though it is entirely against the law. And you are right. The temperature in a parked car, especially a dark
colored car, is much hotter than the temperature outside. Even with the windows partially cracked, the dog was in definite danger. It only takes minutes for brain damage, and ultimately death to occur as a result of being overheated.

However, unless you are in the middle of nowhere, I strongly recommend that you contact the authorities to rescue animals left in these circumstances. You were absolutely correct in your thinking to track down the mall security. They are prepared to handle these cases and thus, you will be relieved of any civil liability for breaking someone’s window. You can also contact the police or the animal control department that has jurisdiction.

Unfortunately, cases such as the one you described, are common, especially in the summer. Pet owners think that their companions would enjoy a ride in the car and yet fail to realize that while they are enjoying the air-conditioning of the mall or market, their pets are suffering in a virtual oven. The rule of thumb is this....if you can’t take your pet with you when you arrive at a destination, it is best to leave your pet at home.

This brings me to some general warm weather advice. As the summer approaches, hot days are inevitable. Make sure your pets have extra supplies of water before leaving to work or school. Provide shelter from the sun. Limit walks to the early morning or evening hours to avoid your pet overheating or burning his feet on hot pavement or cement. And finally, get ready for flea season by taking preventative measures now.
By taking these steps, your pet will have a comfortable and safe summer.

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