Help Save Animals from Overheated Cars

dogs hot cars

Target: Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania governor

Goal: Create legislation allowing bystanders to remove animals from hot cars

Each year, despite public service announcements and common knowledge, pet owners senselessly leave their pets to die in hot cars. It is impossible to monitor the behavior of every pet owner, thus it is extremely important that bystanders know they are allowed to intervene if an emergency arises.

Several states have enacted laws that permit using reasonable force if an animal is overheating in a locked car. In these states, bystanders no longer need to worry whether breaking an animal out of a vehicle will result in criminal charges. However, this is not a law in most states and there are many gray areas, making people unsure about whether they can help.

Cracking a window is usually not adequate and does not prevent the car’s temperature from rising rapidly. Dogs do not have sweat glands, making them far more vulnerable to heatstroke than humans. A locked car in the summer, even with a window rolled down, is like an oven. The temperature rises rapidly and often to suffocating levels.

News outlets have reported stories of bystanders frantically searching for owners, calling police who take hours to arrive, and trying to give dogs water through tiny window cracks. This is a horrible position to be in. Sign this petition to give bystanders the right to break the animal out when other options have been exhausted.


Dear Governor Corbett,

Thousands of animals, especially dogs, are left to slowly overheat in hot cars while their owners are elsewhere. Bystanders are often nearby, concerned, and willing to help, but their power is limited. With summer approaching, legislation is needed not only to protect these animals, but also to empower community members to be aware and active.

Researchers have stated that dogs can endure a maximum body temperature of 107 to 108 degrees only briefly before brain damage or death occurs. Because pets cannot escape these situations and owners may be gone for hours, bystanders should be permitted to use necessary force to free the animal. If it is 80 degrees outside, a car temperature can rise to approximately 114 degrees in a matter of 20 minutes. Once a dog begins to overheat, time is extremely limited.

There were various reports of owners being uncooperative or police never arriving when called out to overheating incidents in 2013. This leaves bystanders completely helpless, forcing them to watch the animal suffer needlessly while time runs out. A bystander should not have to watch an animal die because of legal technicalities.

New legislation would solve this problem completely. Please create specific legislation allowing bystanders to break animals out of hot cars when no other option is available.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay

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  1. paula eaton says:

    Leave your “pets” at home when it is hot or cold out. It is abusive and cruel to let your “pet” stay in a car to die from heat stroke.

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