Don't Make These Mistakes

Learn the top 10 Mistakes dog owners make when training their dogs, and what you need to know to avoid them.

car3I drove to the store for some groceries. My K9 laid lazily in the back seat, accompanying me on my errands as was typical for us on a daily basis. At least one of my K9s is by my side nearly everywhere I go. After all, what good is a security K9 if you are constantly leaving them at home?

I pulled into the lot. My K9 rested her head on the window, surveying her surroundings quietly from the comfort of the back seat. Although it was early morning in San Diego and the ambient temperature wasn’t even 70 degrees, I still opted to find a shady spot in the large lot adjacent to the grocery store. I cracked the window, gave my dog a pat, told her to “Watch the car.” and headed into the store.

I spent about 15 minutes gathering my groceries. As I checked out, my gaze shifted through the sliding doors and out to the parking lot. I scanned the lot for my car, spotting it in the distance, still shaded by the large tree I had strategically parked under. But my car wasn’t alone. There was a woman pacing around it, the car shaking as the Malinois inside protested her presence. The dog barked and slammed against the window as the woman periodically peered in, pressing her face to the glass as she did. As the dog threatened, the woman didn’t budge – her hand remaining pressed against the car as she seemingly tried talking to my dog.

Distracted by the scene, I rushed myself through the checkout process to confront the stranger that was agitating my dog and repeatedly touching my car, which certainly wasn’t hers to be touching.

As I exited the store, she turned toward me, her cell phone pressed to her ear, her face flushed with anger, and her brow furrowed. I approached calmly, summoning all of my resolve to simply control and contain my irritation.

“Can I help you?” I asked as I closed in on the parked car. My dog quieted when she saw me but still watched the woman intently.

Instantly, the woman began berating me, finding the most offensive ways she could muster to inform me that she believed my dog was in distress as the car was obviously too hot. She told me I was an awful dog owner, that I lacked compassion, and that I obviously had no idea how to properly care for a dog. She peppered every sentence with a number of obscenities, further adding to the effect of her rage.

My irritation turned to anger as she repeatedly called me names, informing me that animal control was on the way.

“Look…” she nearly shouted as she thrust her pointed finger towards my car. “That dog is panting”.

I chuckled, which she did not find amusing.

“She’s panting because you wouldn’t leave her alone.” I retorted.  “You were touching the car she has been trained to protect. Couldn’t you see her frustration with your presence?” I asked.

“The only reason she’s upset,” she argued, “is because she was too hot, and she wanted out of that car!”.

Frustrated, my poker face failed me as I rolled my eyes and met her absurd accusation with sarcasm.

“I’m glad you know my own dog better than I do…” was my response.

I hadn’t diffused the situation. I had, instead, made it worse.

She launched into a tirade, “schooling” me on proper dog care. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, and frankly, I didn’t want to. There was no sense in arguing.

Positioning herself next to the car, she immediately grabbed the door as I climbed into the front seat, shouting loudly as she did.

“Don’t touch my car.” I warned calmly.

“Don’t you dare roll down those windows!” she blurted, “I want Animal Control to see exactly how far down they were when you left that poor dog in there!”

Again, I chuckled. Apparently, according to her, my car was too hot for my dog to remain inside, but this self proclaimed martyr now had the nerve to tell me not to roll the windows down? Some animal lover she was….

As she continued yelling at me, her rage bordered absolute belligerence as I repeatedly expressed a complete and utter lack of concern, instead meeting her tirade with cool and calm sarcasm and quiet undertones of irritation. With a cooling unit and a temperature gauge, coupled with the fact that it wasn’t hot outside in the least, I knew my dog was suffering from nothing more than anger at this woman who wouldn’t heed her warnings to stay away.

In the distance, I saw the large, white animal control truck round the corner. Finally my reprieve had arrived.

She caught sight of the truck moments after I did and immediately stopped her yelling, stepping behind my car to flag the officer down.

The truck squeaked as it slowed to a stop directly behind us. The uniformed woman then slid out, notepad in hand, flashing a warm smile as she approached.

“Ma’am,” she said to me, “a complaint was filed that your dog was left in your car for an extended period of time and was in distress.” I could tell she wasn’t terribly concerned as she spoke – that this visit was simply a protocol she had to follow.

My accuser immediately launched into her tirade again, emotionally explaining the “incident” to the officer who quickly shushed her frantic banter.

The officer turned to me.

“May I approach the vehicle?” she asked.

“Sure,” I responded, “but it isn’t too hot. She is a trained security dog and was agitated because this ‘concerned citizen’” – I said that with sarcasm –  “kept pressing her face against the glass window.”

The officer approached my car. My dog was quiet but suspicious.

“May I reach my hand into the car to test the temperature?” she asked.

“No,” I flatly responded. “But I am happy to pull the dog out, and you can sit inside of the car, doors closed, to see if it’s too hot”.

She agreed. Apparently, she knew Malinois well and wasn’t about to take any chances with this one. Smart girl…

I opened the door and the previously agitated, seemingly ferocious K9 hopped out, came to my side, and laid down as I gave a quiet command. The officer complimented her training to the dismay and disgust of my accuser. She then sat down in my car, flashed me another friendly smile as she spotted the cooling unit and temperature gauge, and then hopped out.

My accuser’s face went white as the officer informed her that the interior of the car was perfectly comfortable and the dog was well protected. She then thanked the finally speechless woman for her concern and shifted her attention to me as I released the dog to say hello. The dog happily trotted over to the officer, nuzzling her for pets as she and I began chatting about Malinois, training, and security K9s, my accuser looking horrified as the officer and I became instant friends. After some choice words, her continuing to judge my decision making even after the officer had found my dog to be “perfectly cared for”, the woman huffed off, filled with anger that her martyrdom didn’t work out as she had planned.


In the years following that incident, I have found myself repeatedly concerned about the intentions of self proclaimed animal rescuers who regularly run around breaking car windows, stealing pets, and violating basic rights and laws in an effort to “save” a dog that, in most cases, doesn’t need saving.

Fact of the matter is, at least one of my K9s will ALWAYS go everywhere with me. They are my partners, my protectors, and my best friends and I have taken every precaution to ensure their health and safety. In fact, I probably take better care of my K9s than I do myself!

Yet still, I worry.

I find myself rushing through the stores when I elect not to take them in, or regularly peering through glass windows checking on my truck, which I take ages to park, driving in circles until I find a spot that is visible from the inside of the store.

But I’m not checking on my dogs. They are fine. I know this because they have water, a cooling unit, and a temperature gauge that rings my phone if something malfunctions. When it comes to my dogs, I spare no expense. Instead, I am peering out the window and checking on my truck because I am concerned about “dog rescuers”….. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught them  pacing around my truck.

I’ll tell you honestly, if someone broke into my truck, first and foremost, they’d suffer a nasty bite. No amount of baby talk or coaxing with treats would be able to lure my trained security dog into accompanying them in a friendly manner. Instead, they would end the encounter severely injured. And then what? If my dog lets go, she could run into traffic. If she stays on the bite, the person’s injuries will be severe. By “rescuing” my dog, that I guarantee doesn’t need saving, they would inevitably put her, and themselves, in harm’s way. And if they did put her in harm’s way, they’d have me to deal with…. and I think I’d fear my bite more than that of my dog. When Mama Bear comes out, especially when it comes to the safety of her dogs, you’d better run.

What to do if you have concern for a dog in a car

Now I’m not saying that some owners do not behave irresponsibly and cause their dogs to suffer because of it. As tragic as it is, there are dogs that die every year in hot cars. Not as many as animal rescuers will have you believe, but then again, they’d probably claim that’s because they gallantly stepped in to save the day.

So how should you handle a situation where a dog is left in a car and you are concerned?

  1. Educate yourself on the signs of distresscar2Every dog pants. Panting is not a sign of distress. If the dog is listless, in a stupor, if there’s vomit present, or if the dog can’t stand, immediate action is necessary. Familiarize yourself with the signs of heat exhaustion, and don’t take drastic measures unless it is a true emergency.
  2. Step away from the vehicle – Regardless of how convinced you are that every dog loves you, by standing near the vehicle, you are likely either agitating or exciting the dog which can further overheat the pup. Instead, back away from the vehicle so you are out of sight.
  3. Attempt to find the owner – Walk in neighboring stores and try to find the owner before taking action. Head to the service desk and ask them to make an announcement over the store’s loudspeaker. You might be able to track down the owner and save everyone quite a bit of trouble.
  4. Be kind – If you find the owner, berating and belittling them while calling them names isn’t helpful. By being rude, you will only incite an argument. I promise they won’t learn anything from you yelling at them, and I promise you will not have done hardly as much good as if you were to approach the situation with kindness. A better tactic is to approach them from a place of caring and concern, and to help educate them kindly on some steps they can take to keep their pet cool. If you are kind, they will be more apt to listen and more apt to learn. Regardless of how you feel about the situation, you’ll have a far better shot at changing future behavior if you are kind and compassionate.
  5. Engage the authorities – If you are concerned, unless it is a severe emergency, it’s critical that you do not take the law into your own hands. By prematurely breaking windows, you put yourself and the dog in the car at very serious risk. A fearful dog can take off, and an aggressive dog can bite. Call animal control or your local police department and wait for them to handle the situation. They will be able to tell if it is a true emergency and what legal action is necessary. But remember, by engaging the authorities, you are potentially taking them away from other calls and emergencies so be sure the situation is critical and requires immediate intervention.

How to Travel Safely with Your K9

If you’re like me and you take your dog everywhere, be sure you are taking the proper precautions to keep your dog comfortable and safe, especially on hot days. Park in the shade and purchase and use a sun-shade to keep your car cool. They also have retractable sun shades for your side windows that can help. Make sure your pup has access to plenty of cool water, and make sure your vehicle is well ventilated. You can purchase window guards so you can keep your windows rolled down without concern that your K9 will escape. To further help, you can purchase a cooling unit and install a temperature gauge, which will notify you as to any extreme fluctuations in your car’s internal temperature. By taking the necessary precautions, you can ensure your pup’s excursions with you are enjoyable and worry free.

In order to combat the actions of “well-intentioned animal rescuers”, you can take an extra step and leave a note on your vehicle with your contact information. I regularly leave a note on my window stating that the dogs are executive security dogs trained to protect my vehicle, and that if an individual is concerned, they can call or text me. Shockingly, this note has thwarted every single person from circling my truck, and we haven’t had an incident since it’s been in place.

Sadly however, regardless of the precautions I take, I still worry when I leave my dog in the car to run errands. I’m not worried about him – I’m never worried about him. I know he’s safe. I worry about the concerned citizens that regularly violate laws and basic rights under the guise of rescuing dogs. But their efforts will never thwart me. My dog will continue to go with me everywhere, and I’ll continue to face the judgement from people who know nothing but think they know it all. I guarantee that my dog is happier to be with me than he would left in my non-air conditioned home.

 

 


Meagan Karnes
Meagan Karnes

Meagan has been training dogs professionally since 2002, most recently working with private security, military and law enforcement to provide K9s for high level applications. She owns both The Collared Scholar, an online dog training academy, and 690 Security Services, a company that trains and deploys Executive Security and Protection K9s to private customers. She recently partnered with both Average Frog and SM Leaders, who repurpose the proven performance principles of the Navy SEALs for individuals and organizations.

    50 replies to "The Hot Car Epidemic: How to Appropriately Handle Dogs in Hot Cars"

    • Patricia

      Thanks for the article. Please tell me about the cooling unit and temperature gauge you use in your car. I hadn’t heard about using that. Is it portable, or something installed in the car. How do I get one?

      Patricia

      • Meagan Karnes

        There are a couple of options depending on your needs, temps, time spent in the car etc.. You can get a high end cooling unit if you travel often. I like the units available at http://www.swampy.net – they are small swamp coolers for your vehicle. Alternatively, you can put a crate fan on a rolled down window with window guard. These are less expensive and have freezer pack inserts that keep the air cool for an hour or two. They are ProSelect Dog Crate Fans and you can buy them online at Brookstone.com. For the gauge, I like the Freeze Alarm by Control Products but there are many available online. I think there is also a company that is in development of an all in one cooling unit with temperature gauge that rings your phone but I haven’t been able to find them available just yet.

      • CHRISTINE k

        I WENT TO LOWERS TO GET TWO ITEMS MY DOG WAS IN THE CAR HAD MY WIDOWS DOWN WAS NOT HOT THIS LADY CAME UP TO ME STARTED YELLING AT ME ABOUT MY DOG I SAID MY WINDOWS ARE DOWN IN HER CARRY SO SHE WOULD NOT GET HURT, SHE TOLD ME TO LEAVE OR SHE WOULD CALL THE COPS. MY DOG WAS FINE SHE WOULD NOR LET ME GET A WORD IN. SHE ACT CRAZY . WITH PEOPLE LIKE HER IS WHY THIS WORLD IS CRAZY . I,AM A GOOD DOD OWNER .

    • Lisa Krizan

      Thanks for the thoughtful article. I have been accosted in public by idiots threatening to call animal control for the way I train my dog, and I have been ignored when telling people not to touch my dog while he was in an off- leash stay. Regarding leaving your dog in the car, do you think it would help if the car were clearly marked with a sign saying the dog is guarding a car equipped with temperature control? Or is that an enticement for someone to steal the dog?

      • Meagan Karnes

        I know what you mean! It can be so frustrating. I leave a note on my car window that states that my dog is a security K9, that the car is climate controlled, and if anyone has any concern they can call or text me. It has seemed to successfully thwart any action by self proclaimed “rescuers” so far. So in my opinion, YES – signage is key. Seemed to work well for me!

    • Nita

      What cooling until do you use?

      • Meagan Karnes

        There are a couple of options depending on your needs, temps, time spent in the car etc.. You can get a high end cooling unit if you travel often. I like the units available at http://www.swampy.net – they are small swamp coolers for your vehicle. Alternatively, you can put a crate fan on a rolled down window with window guard. These are less expensive and have freezer pack inserts that keep the air cool for an hour or two. They are ProSelect Dog Crate Fans and you can buy them online at Brookstone.com.

    • Marnie Hammerle

      Great article! I wish more pet people would read it… youre kinda preaching to the choir here. =0)

      A word of warning however – here in Wisconsin, during the PGA tournament in Koehler, WI… a 3yo K9 Officer (Malinois) died of heat exhaustion while in his partners air-conditioned and monitored police vehicle. His partner is devastated! To have both units malfunction at the same time… simply tragic!

      • Meagan Karnes

        Thanks! And such a tragedy. I can only imagine how devastated he must have been. Even with all of the sensors, I always park in the shade and use sun shades and I don’t leave my dog in the truck when its hot for longer than 10 minutes because of stories like that. Scares me to death and I’m pretty paranoid about my dog’s safety in general 🙂 If I am going to run errands and going to be in a store for long, I’ll wait until evening. Better to be safe for sure. My dogs are my family and I don’t take chances 🙂

    • Jennifer

      Thank you for this. I have crates in the back of my SUV with a remote temperature sensor between the crates. The back windows are tinted and it is typically 10 – 15 degrees cooler than the front.

      I can take the tenperature display unit up to 300′ away and know how hot it is in the car at all times.

      Fortunately I have small dogs and the crates are below the window line, so they don’t bark at much and no one knows they’re there.

      • Meagan Karnes

        Nice! I always love when people take the appropriate precautions so that they can incorporate their dogs into their daily lives. Which sensor do you use?

        • Jennifer

          It’s a very inexpensive indoor/outdoor thermometer from Bed Bath and Beyond. The “outdoor” sensor is in the back next to the crates. The read out unit is in the front of the car and tells me the temperature in both the front and back.

          I compete in agility and also can put this in my tent so that I know if the dogs are too hot there.

          With this, silver net shade cloth, vent locks, and cooling coats, my dogs kind of have it made. 🙂

    • Andrew

      Thanks for the article. I’m curious about the climate monitoring device you suggested. The Freeze Alarm appears to be designed for use in a home. It uses a wall transformer and requires a landline phone for programming and alerting. From your context, it sounded like you have something that is portable and able to alert you wirelessly. I’m interested to know if you were able to reconfigure the Freeze alarm to work this way, or whether you are using a different type of alerting device.

    • Tamandra

      It’s gotten really, really bad. I almost always have my GSD with me, and he loves to run around, pulling my wheelchair. Constantly I am hearing “poor dog!” simply because he’s panting. Pet people just automatically assume that means distress, or the dog hasn’t had water in ages. God forbid I put him in the car after running around, so he’s still panting, even if it’s cool.

      • Meagan Karnes

        I hear ya. Its so frustrating. I see your posts and I know you take EXCEPTIONAL care of Justice! Love seeing all of his pictures. Must drive you crazy 🙂 My dog goes everywhere with me too. I’m overprotective and cautious but hey, my life kinda revolves around him 🙂 I don’t want to lock him up in the house! Not to mention we travel cross country for events and seminars so I have no choice but to bring him along. He’s a working dog. It’s his job!

    • Kathy

      What brand of “cooling unit” do you use?

      • Meagan Karnes

        I posted a couple of links in some of the previous comments. There are a few options. For long days or cross country travel, I like the portable swamp cooler from swampy.net. But you can get a crate fan with freezer inserts from Brookstone at an affordable price for quick trips 🙂

    • Barbara Duno

      I was relieved when I saw all the precautions you take to safe guard your dog while in your car. I think you are good at keeping your dog safe. However, I recently found a car full of large dogs parked in the sun with nary a window cracked. I found the owners and stood my ground until they reluctantly cracked one window. I did not approach the car and kept my cool though I was scared because they ( the owners) were very hostile. I tried to appeal to the needs of the dogs, but they would not listen until I said I would call the police and wrote down their licence number. Was in a place very far from any local Animal Control. Not everyone is as caring as or as careful as you are.

      • Meagan Karnes

        Yes! Thanks for your comment! And thanks for looking out for those dogs. I definitely do believe that we have to look out for the safety of all dogs. Windows cracked, parking in the shade, and fresh water available are all must haves! And if the dogs are distressed, we should definitely take appropriate action and call the authorities. My biggest fear is that people will try to take the law in their own hands. In my case, the dog wouldn’t respond well to a stranger breaking a window. A dangerous situation for all involved. Not to mention, my dogs are well cared for and very safe in the vehicle so the energy is better spent elsewhere. But yes, you are good to do what you do! Definitely the APPROPRIATE way to approach a potentially dangerous situation! Excellent job!

    • I feel your pain and often tell the story of a lady who confronted me about having my dogs in my car.

      First, I pointed out that I was parked in the shade and it was only 70ºF.

      Second, I pointed out that it was a Jeep Wrangler with all of the windows removed. Yes, that is correct. There were no windows. (The dogs, by the way, ride in seat belts so they can’t jump out).

      When that still was not getting her to calm down, I point out that I was easy to find because . . . I was sitting in the Jeep with the dogs. Yes, really, because I worry so much about the dogs safety, only one of us leaves the car to go into the store and the others sit with the dogs.

      Yes, really.

      • Meagan Karnes

        Oh my. You’re kidding!!! You must have been so frustrated! It really has gotten out of hand. Thanks for sharing. You gave us all a good laugh. Crazy to me how many people attack good….no GREAT….dog owners because they think the know better. Totally ridiculous!

        • Hannah

          I got yelled at once for leaving my dog in the car at a trailhead…while I went to an outhouse 50 feet away…in January. It was below freezing. But I was told several times very loudly that, “It gets too hot in cars for dogs!” by a woman who…finally got back into the car she had been idling with the heat on.

          Somehow my dog managed not to overheat in the minute and a half that I was gone.

          Somehow. 😉

    • timbo

      Yes, I could leave a note that I have trained security dogs in my car, but I don’t think anyone would take that seriously for my two chihuahuas. LOL

      • Meagan Karnes

        Hahahaha! I would take it seriously….I’ve met some pretty tough chihuahuas 😉

    • joel

      Once I was getting out of my car at the Walmart parking lot when I saw a woman getting out of her car and leaving the dog inside. I approached her and offered to care for her dog while she shopped. She handed me the leash and the dog and I sat under a tree until the woman came out of the store. She was very nice.

    • Lynne de Bie

      For a 2 minute trip into our local Bank of America to sign some papers, I left my GSD with the outside security guard. When I came out, I found her sitting politely by his side; his expression was priceless. They looked very professional together!

    • Claudia

      Excellent article!! I too, take my Dutchie with me everywhere I go. I have a bright red decal that I had made, on the rear window of my truck which says, “Working Dog, Stay Clear.” When I cannot take her inside with me, I leave the windows down halfway, the rear truck slider window open, and put my sunshade in place. She always has a bowl of water available. She is also seatbelted in, to avoid having her ‘escape’ through the open window.

      I do not have a cooling fan yet, but it is on my shoppig list, as is the temperature guage.

      I defy anyone to screw with my truck or my dog. I am a legal conceal carry holder, and my handgun also goes everywhere with me, to protect my property and my dog, of course! 🙂 I am a retired MWD handler and military cop!

      • Susan

        Claudia, thank you for your service to our great country.

    • Mimi Lyon

      Interesting article. Knowledge is power. It might save everyone a whole bunch of angst if there were some sort of universal sticker that folks traveling with their pets could place somewhere on their vehicle (dash, maybe), that had an “In case of emergency concerns about my pet, please call/text…..”

      • Pat

        Now that is a great suggestion. I think I will make one for my car and just have it laminated.

    • Kellie

      Well written and thought out. As an ACO with 20+yrs in the field, I couldn’t agree more. And thank you for the links for temp gauge and cooling unit.

    • KR

      I travel with my service animal, meaning where she is I am too…so it is funny how at times I am laying down in my van’s bed inside the vehicle with my dog either under the bed or peeking out a window if she likes AND I get to hear all the comments from would-be pet rescuers…one even tried opening the vehicle door to “let the dog out” so I loudly said “hey, you open the door my dog is going to bite you, I am likely to taz or shoot you, and you’ll be charged with car-jacking

    • James

      I can side with your story as I too usually have dogs with me wherever I go. I always try to run my errands early in the morning or later in the evening during warm summer months but even at 9am on a 60 degree morning while I’m parked in the shade I’ve had people pull the “your dog is in distress” bs. That said, i would not refer to them as “so-called rescuers” because fact remains that there are many idiots who do leave their dogs in distress in warm weather and I would prefer that someone make the effort to do something about it than ignore a dog in need, do nothing, and have a dog die as a result.

    • C. Woods

      I find your post cocky and very condescending. So you have a cooling unit…wow! Do people walking by know that….no! Perhaps the rescue lady was a little over zealous but who can blame her? You are basically telling people to mind their own business because unbeknownst to others you have it covered. Well, I would say you are about .5 of the population. The rest are usually guilty of leaving their animals in a hot car which has more times then not, resulted in an animal suffering or even dying. I personally can’t stand seeing windows cracked open a few inches even in shade. To me it’s useless. You are forgetting about the contained body heat generated from a dog that is on the medium to large side especially if they are barking. Oh, I forgot…your dog is perfectly trained. Wake up to the real world. Not everyone is a trainer and not everyone is a good dog owner so get off your high horse and be grateful that someone took the time to be concerned about your dog. Your attitude and arrogance are telling people to mind their own business because you think everyone thinks and acts like you.

      • Meagan Karnes

        Wow. I am sorry you feel that way as the intention of the post was to give people more productive advice for dealing with dogs in hot cars as bulleted within the article. In no way do I think people need to ignore dogs left in vehicles. However I believe there is a right way and a wrong way to go about helping. We can choose in our actions to be kind and productive, or we can choose to be belligerent, overreact and put ourselves and the dogs we are trying to save at risk. I really hope folks that read the article can pick up a few pointers on how to more productively help dogs in hot cars.

    • Susan

      Like you, I would bring my dog everywhere with me in the car for protection. Only I left her there with all the windows fully down, shades in the front and back windows (not at night of course), and a good view of the front of the store so she could watch me enter and exit the building. Only once she tried to jump out. That was when a man approached me from behind as I was leaving the store with groceries and said, “Excuse me, can I ask you a question?” I turned around and at the same time, my husky mix went batshit crazy barking and growling and ready to protect me. The man said, “never mind,” and walked away while my dog remained in the car. I’ll never know what he wanted, but I do know that my dog, who doesn’t treat everyone that way, didn’t trust him and got me out of what could have been a bad situation.

    • Jane

      Leaving your dog in a car is irresponsible. If you need to take your dog with you for protection then go to a safer store where you don’t need protection. If I saw your dog left in a car I would notify the authorities as well. As a concerned citizen it is not my job to go from store to store to find out which jack ass left their dog locked in a car. ,the fact of the matter is in a lot of states it is legal to break a window of a car if you see a dog locked inside and you may think it is in distress. Remember that next time you leave your dog in a car unattended.

      • Meagan Karnes

        Thanks for your comment although I do disagree that leaving a dog in a car is irresponsible. I believe very strongly that if you take the proper precautions and if you are responsible in your actions, taking your dog along can be beneficial for both dogs and owners. My dogs not only come with me as protection – they are my companions. They join me on day trips to beaches, parks and on hikes, to dog shows, and on road trips cross country. At times it is necessary to leave them in the truck, and I have no intention of sacrificing their happiness because someone made an assumption my dog was unsafe. Instead, I’ve invested in custom impact kennels with keyed locks and special gear to ensure their safety as it is my top priority. Should someone decide to break a window, my dogs will be protected and I will in turn seek damages as it is only lawful to break a window (in very limited states) if a dog is in serious distress which I guarantee will never be the case. And notifying the authorities is fine – although it takes them away from more important calls should it be a false alarm. Doing so is a correct response to concern over a dog in a car. But being rude, belligerent and degrading, and by taking the law into your own hands based on an assumption is not only irresponsible and counterproductive, but it also can be quite dangerous for both the person and the dog.

    • Jody

      If I’m on vacation, I park in the shade, have window guards and two 10 inch fans. I put one fan blowing air in and the other blowing air out. I use a temp. sensor for a green house, I can read the temperature from about 300 feet away. I took the window guards and retrofitted them, attaching 2 of them permanently together side by side with pop rivets, which made the guard taller, letting in more air.

    • Ellen

      My dogs go with me in my car a lot, in part because I travel with them a lot. Even when I’m not traveling, but just going for a hike or out somewhere with a fun dog place nearby and fold that in with an extra stop for something, they go with me. I’ve never had one of these encounters, thank goodness, but the stories from dog friends and others like you have made me paranoid–not about whether my dogs are in a too-hot car (because they aren’t), but exactly for the things that you bring up–will some crazy person break the window of my car to then get bitten and/or have my dog jump out and run into traffic or simply vanish in terror while I’m buying a jug of milk? I’ve done this for decades and it had never occurred to me to worry about overly zealous people until very recent years. So, yes, now I’m also paranoid about people! One way that I address any possible issue is by setting the stopwatch on my watch every time I leave them if it’s a sunny day, even if they’re in the shade and the air temps are cool, so that I can say and show with authority how long I was gone. But on days when the air temps are cool and they’re in the car, they can be in the car for a very long time and never be in danger except from such actions. I started carrying a thermometer in case I needed to show someone that the interior of a car in the shade with the windows completely rolled up is likely much cooler than the outside temp after the a/c has been on while I’ve been driving for half an hour, or an hour, or more, because everything in the car is now cool! I don’t understand the “irresponsible to leave dogs in car” attitude; what on earth is irresponsible about it? I see all the time people commenting that it’s illegal to leave dogs in cars here in CA, but in fact the law says that they can’t be left if doing so will hurt them. I know that people want the best for animals, and I’m grateful that they care, but the best for dogs is leading a rich life with their family, just like for people, and that doesn’t happen unless the dog gets into cars. A lot. The way things are going with the general public (irresponsible to walk them any time except early morning or late evening, irresponsible to use a collar instead of a harness, irresponsible to put them in a crate(!), and so on), dogs will never leave home at all. Anyhoo–thanks for this well-stated post.

    • MM

      Your post is as irresponsible as leaving your dog in the car. You come across as if people are stupid for being concerned. You do realize that you are the 0.1 % of dog owners that even care if the dog can get hot in the car? The 99.9% of dog owners who leave their dogs in a hot car don’t care that it’s dangerous. Bully for you for making an effort to keep your dog safe in the car when it can get overheated, you are in the massive minority. And as other comments have said, even the police units temperature monitoring and cooling devices have failed, and resulted in a dead dog. Every other dog that woman who confronted you has seen in a car was in danger. How exactly was she supposed to know that your dog, supposedly, wasn’t in danger? You laughing at her for her concern is shameful, OF COURSE she KNEW you were the exception, she knows you intimately! Shame on you for reprimanding people for doing the right thing. Even one dog dying in a hot car is too many, and maybe someone being concerned can save that dog.

      • Meagan Karnes

        While I do understand and appreciate the concern of others, tone and the way you approach a situation dictates how that situation plays out. When you have a bad attitude, are rude, and approach people inappropriately, belittling them and treating them disrespectfully, you will of course, be met with irritation, sarcasm and anger. Its a natural response. And she shouldn’t get a green light to be rude, and I be chastised for becoming irritated and sarcastic in return. A more appropriate way for her to handle things, had she truly been concerned, would have been to step away from the vehicle, as to not agitate the dog, observe for actual signs of stress (not fabricated ones), seek out the owner, and call the authorities to help. Had she approached me in a way that was respectful, I would have responded more appropriately. But anger and disrespect begets more anger and disrespect. The article was meant to teach people the appropriate and responsible way to approach dogs in hot cars, as illustrated by the title and the bulleted points at the end – not to tell people not to help or not to be vigilant. I’m sorry you took offense or felt as though I am telling people they are stupid for being concerned. That was not my intention.

      • Lana

        Shame on the woman for approaching her in a rude nasty way! No one has the right to be nasty rude or mean to someone! No one has the right to be judgemental and treat someone like they are criminal. Does that woman even have ANY social skills. She will accomplish NOTHING by attacking and belittling her. I have seen A LOT of dogs in hot cars this week and the windows are rolled pretty far down, and I see the owner come back outside quickly. I see good people do this and try as much as they can to protect their animals. I of course think it’s awful when people don’t care and let their dogs die, I rarely see that and do look out for that. That woman who is “Confronting” people is not doing any good for anyone!! Attacking people is not effective! It won’t do any good. IT MAKES THESE “DOG RESCUERS” look like mentally ill lunatics who are going to take your license plate pictures and shame you on a website. These Dog Rescuers need to learn how to approach people if they want to be EFFECTIVE.

    • Lana

      Here is my story: I left my dog in the car when it was overcast outside for about five minutes, I thought she would be okay since it seemed kind of cool out. And I am a very nice decent person and love my dog.
      Then I came back out to my car and this crazy lady was like “Is this your car?” and I said yes. Then she told me I need to not leave my dog in the car and proceeded to treat me like a criminal, she was nasty and mean then took pictures of me and my license plate. I called the police and now am living in fear that this lunatic is going to hunt me down and harrass me. People who leave dogs in cars for five mintues are not bad people that don’t care about their animals! The crazy lady is the one that seems like a danger to society!! She didn’t even ask how long the dog was in the car. I don’t trust people anymore. The only thing this woman accomplished is to show me how CRAZY JUDGEMENTAL and out of control people can be. Why can’t people have a decent CIVILIZED discussion?? It makes these people look like the crazy ones. They JUDGE without first talking decently to the person to see what is going on. Now I have to go online and see if their are pictures of my car online shaming and judging me for being a Horrible person!!!

    • Robin

      Excellent article. I was an animal control officer for 18 yrs. I could not have articulated this better.

    • Phoebe

      I have a very similar story with my pets. In my situation it was 60 degrees in Connecticut on an April day, the sun roof was half open, we were parked in shade. However, what makes my story different is that I had not even made it into the store before I heard a women scream “who’s car is this”. I turned around just as I had reached the side walk. By the time I arrived back to my car already in tears – mind you I was running, a gentleman was by her side yelling as well. Once I had arrived back to the car, and insisted the sun roof was open, and I was running in the store for milk only – the bystanders were on a tangent. Yelling at me and insisting I was a terrible dog abuser. They also couldn’t understand why the dogs were howeling – similar to the story above, my dogs felt under attack by the strangers banging on the car windows. They continued to call me names – some totally derogatory, and even threatened to break my window. They finally stepped away as I just proceeded to leave. I felt so terrible and guilty after this incident. That day I had just taken my dogs to the dog park and to the beach – and it was a very cool, windy day. I was so embarrassed, and essential have stopped leaving the dogs in the car. It is almost a PTSD from the incident. I am a huge animal lover, a vegetarian, and I have 4 rescue dogs. I treat my love bugs so well, and I was truly hurt by this situation. I am happy I am not alone….people could be helping society, and animals in such a more productive way than just roaming around trying to be a hero.

    • AnaK

      Thank you! It is a very nice article! Very disappointing that some people leave negative comments about this post. The steps you should take (IF YOU ARE TRYING TO HELP A DOG) described here are very reasonable. If you are trying to prove your point or make a scene as a “dog rescuer” than, yes, you might have a problem with an article.
      We had a movie like scene in a parking lot over leavng a dog in the car today. And I went online to see if other dog owners encounter aggressive attacks from dog rescuers. As it apears there are a lot of us here. And we are not dog abusers, but nice people who love pets and like to make them feel as part of the family as much as we can. Taking them on car rides included, and our pets love it!
      I personally do not even mind that you are trying to help my dog but do it classy, no need to start judging a person’s character that you see for the first time in your life or much less start calling names!
      Here is my story. Our air conditioner in the house broke the night before and the house temperature inside was as hot as it was outside, around 80 (yes, pretty darn hot). My dog had plenty of water and I would sprey her short coat with water. I was going to meet with my husband for a quick lunch and I could not decide if I should take my dog with me or not. She was very excited to go with me and I took her, not the best decision perhaps. But she was able to cool down with me in air conditioned car for a while. And I thought it would not be a big deal to leave my dog in the car with all windows opened while we get a quick bite to eat. My husband thought it was hot and asked me why I brought our dog, I told him it was hot in the house as well and that I will leave windows wide open.
      While I was in the restroom a big scene was unfolding in a small parking lot with 2 police cars, 2 officers, 1 yelling lady, a group of about 15 supporters and my husband in the center of it all! When I came out the scene seamed surreal to me, It still feels like I was dreaming. Apparently my dog which is a loudmouth chihuahua, very territorial, started barking at people that were outside the car (she always does it). Made a very loud presence in a parking lot with all these windows opened. By the way she makes loud appearances anywhere she goes, will use any chance she gets (most chihuahua owners will understand:)! The more people came out the more loud and furious she got. LOL
      Police came, my husband heard the commotion and went outside. A lady jumped on him started calling him names and casting, telling him what a disgusting person he was! Things kind of escalated when he said that she had no right to talk to him in that manner. She retrieved to a group of supporters when I came outside belittling my husband in front of everyone! Meanwhile police officers were a bit hyper
      (a lot of people were involved) and ready to penalize my husband asking for his driver licence. I stepped in and asked what was happening. I told everyone it was my car and I was the one who brought the dog here. I was very calm and told the police that it was a hard decision for me to bring my dog with me today, but thought she would be OK with windows opened, besides our house was hot.
      A crowd of supporters were asking for a drink of water for a dog, as she indeed was panting (in my opinion mostly due to barking and trying to protect her territory furiously from a group of strangers that got TOO close, she can not stand trangers, that is just the way she is).
      One of police officers went inside the restaurant to satisfy a crowd of supporters to get a drink for a dog insisting that I would wait. I waited and then thanked him for water he brought out. My dog turned away from it and we left! While leaving the parking lot a group of supporters were applauding!!!???
      So my question is: if you are just trying to help a dog was’t it easier and faster to walk into the restaurant, in front of which our car was parked and ask who’s chihuahua it is left in a car (and perhaps check 4 other small businesses that were in this small building) and helping a dog much quicker? I would have no problem if the person told us she though the dog was not well and I would be happy to check if my dog was OK. I would respect her as a person if it was done in a reasonable way!
      There are really 2 ways of approaching the problem. Kind way and aggressive way. And I belive it depends on person’s heart, intentions and goals they are trying to accomplish while helping an animal. In my opinion there was no need for that type of scene. But perhaps people want to feel pampered and attract as much attention as possible as they are “doing something good” criminalizing another person bullying him even if it is not this particular person who is in fault. No questions were asked about how long the dog was in the car or when she last had water. She was not trying to see if we are willing and reasonable people or not. Instead she was ready to jump on another person and spread her aggression. Pretty sad.
      While these heroes are applauded in their glory moment we will go on and enjoy our loud chihuahua for hopefully next 17 years (she is 1 y.o. now and our 2 previous doggies lived till they were 17 and 18).
      No bitter feelings here. Just hope that people will learn to talk to one another in civilized manner!

    • Melissa F. Bishop

      I live in Texas and my German Shepherd Inga rides in a big kennel cage in the back of the truck. She was a water bowl and a shade cover that can be pinned on with clothes pins according to the angle of the shade. I have come out and found coocooloos in the parking lot as Meagan has found. What I do is not engage them, it just makes it worse. I just drive off. And on days when it really is wicked hot Inga stays home.

      Now the nanny state where I also have a home, Oregon, has legalized people breaking your windows if they think a dog is hot in their own opinion. They just have to call the law first.
      SALEM, Ore. —
      A new law recently passed in Oregon clears people of criminal and civil liability if they were to break a car window to save an unattended child or animal who appears to be in imminent danger.

      House Bill 2732 was signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday.

      The law took effect immediately.

      The Oregon Humane Society helped push the new law through the Legislature.

      “It gives people the ability to intervene on behalf of children and animals when they’re most at risk. And on days like today, this is so important,” said Oregon Humane Society President and CEO Sharon Harmon.

      Before a good Samaritan chooses to break a car window to save an animal or child most likely stuck in a hot, locked car, they would have to contact law enforcement.

      They are also required to “use no more force than is necessary to enter the [car] and remove the child or animal.” They would have to stay with the child or animal until first responders and police arrived or the owner of the car came back.

      The law doesn’t protect people for gross negligence or for reckless, wanton or intentional misconduct that may occur.

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