MISSOURI

Protect Pets Left in Hot Cars

On a 85° day, the temperature inside a parked car can rocket to 100° in just eight minutes. An animal left unattended in a hot car can suffer irreparable organ damage and even death. This is an unavoidable tragedy happening far too often.


There are twenty-eight states have laws regarding leaving pets unattended in a parked car under certain conditions. It’s a growing trend to better protect pets trapped in these situations, and allow a citizen to intervene to rescue a pet without fear of liability. Missouri should join the growing trend and enact legislation to protect pets from the dangers of hot cars and empower citizens to safely intervene.


Leaving a Pet in a Hot Car is Deadly

Although the danger of hot cars has been an issue for as long as we have transported our pets in vehicles, there is now more information than ever to support how dangerous it is. In just ten minutes, the inside temperature of a car can reach 90° when it’s only seventy degrees outside. In the summer of 2020, outside of St. Louis, a dog owner of a Labrador Retriever and German Shepherd left her two dogs inside a running car on a 90° day. While the owner was away, the car quit running and by the time the owner returned to the car within the hour, both dogs were dead.

In another incident that summer in Kansas City, a dog was brought to the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City after local animal control found the dog trapped in a locked car. The windows were rolled down, but it didn’t matter. The dog’s body temperature registered at 111° and tragically, she died. 

Leaving a pet trapped in a hot car can turn deadly within a matter of minutes. Pets do not sweat the way we do, and cannot cool their body efficiently. A pet can sustain brain damage, organ damage or failure, and even death from a heat stroke within just fifteen minutes of being trapped in a hot car. Cracking a car window has been proven to not slow down the heating process or decrease the car’s internal temperature.

Vulnerable Pets Trapped in Hot Cars Need Protection

It varies state to state if it’s legal to leave a pet animal unattended in a parked car under certain conditions, and if there is a Good Samaritan law that grants a person the legal right or immunity from civil liability (protection from being sued) to rescue a vulnerable pet animal from a vehicle when the animal is in imminent danger.

Missouri does not have a Good Samaritan law to safely allow good citizens to intervene and help when a pet is trapped in an unattended hot car.

Resources

Healthline: Dogs and Hot Car Dangers

Animal Legal & Historical Center

ASPCA: Dogs and Hot Cars Facts

Case: 2 Dogs Die in Hot Car Near St. Louis

Case: Kansas City, KS

Quick Facts

An animal left unattended in a hot car can suffer irreparable organ damage and even death.

On a 85° day, the temperature inside a parked car can rocket to 100° in just eight minutes.

A car can overheat even when the window has been left cracked an inch or two. Even shady spots offer little protection on hot days.

Dogs can’t sweat. Dogs pant in order to lower their body temperature. This makes them more susceptible to heat stroke and heat injury.

At 88° F, dogs no longer lose heat through their skin and are prone to die from heat stroke.

Missouri does not have a Good Samaritan law to safely allow for citizens to intervene and help when a pet is trapped in an unattended car.

What can you do?

Call or e-mail your state legislator today to respectfully request Missouri enact a Good Samaritan law that grants a person the legal right or immunity from civil liability to rescue a vulnerable pet animal from a vehicle when the animal is in imminent danger.

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