Charlotteans leave dogs in hot cars every day. Here’s what to do if you see one

Charlotteans leave dogs in hot cars every day. Here’s what to do if you see one
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Summer: It’s one of the busiest times of the year for CMPD Animal Care & Control.

Their volume of calls reporting animal cruelty spikes along with the hot temperatures. On average during the summer months, they receive a call every day about an animal trapped inside of a car. On an exceptionally hot day, they often receive up to 4 or 5 calls.

Here’s what Animal Care & Control says about keeping dogs safe and cool this summer.

1. Yes, it’s OK to call 911 if you see a pet trapped in a car that looks like it’s in distress.

Even if you park under a tree or under some other form of shade and you leave your windows cracked open, this does not relieve your pet from the summer heat.

Using an infrared thermometer to measure the temperature inside a car parked with the windows rolled down, Officer Julia Conner demonstrates that the interior of a car can reach upwards of 100 degrees in just a half hour after it’s been parked, creating dangerous conditions for a pet left inside.


If you do see a pet trapped in a car, your instinct might be to try and break the window to set the animal free. Do NOT do this. Civilians cannot break a window to get a distressed pet out of a car, no matter what; it’s against the law. If you see a dog in a car that’s panting and drooling heavily, is unresponsive, or can barely stand, call 911 immediately.

However, if the dog is panting a bit but not drooling excessively and they’re responsive enough to bark at you, they’re not in desperate need of getting out of the car. In this case, you should call 311 for Animal Care & Control.

If the dog is in worse condition by the time an Animal Control officer arrives, they do have the authority to break car windows to bring the animal to safety as well as the ability to ticket the dog owner for animal cruelty.

2. Charlotte sidewalks can be too hot for dogs to walk on.

Dogs have delicate paw pads! If you allow them to walk on hot asphalt, your dog could end up burnt.

Officer Conner demonstrates the 5-second asphalt test, in which you place the back of your hand on the pavement for 5 seconds. If this hurts your hand, it’s not safe for your pet to walk on this surface. Take your dog for a walk during the early morning or late evening, when the pavement is out of the sun’s rays.

3. Keep your pet hydrated.

There are tons of cool water bottles and bowls designed for your pet! The orange piece of the water bottle below is a built-in doggie bowl, so you can simply tip the bottle upside down and let the water flow into the bowl for your pet to easily access.

4. The law says outside dogs must have a doghouse.

The best way to keep your pet out of the summer heat is to bring them inside your house. However, if that really isn’t an option, ensure that they’re tethered to a tree in the shade. Additionally, it’s required by law that you provide a doghouse for any dog that lives outside.

Again, make sure your dog has water. Not all dogs like to swim, but if your dog happens to be a water dog, a kiddie pool can do wonders to keep your pet cool.

The officers at Animal Care & Control see a couple cases every summer in which a dog trapped in a hot car or stuck outside in the sun with no shelter and no water overheats and does not survive. If you see a dog that looks to be in distress in the heat, whether it’s in a car or in someone’s backyard, call 911 for immediate assistance or 311 for dogs that do not seem to need emergency care.

“We want Charlotte residents to know they can report this,” said Melissa Knicely, public information specialist for Animal Care & Control. “It’s a priority call for us.”

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