Residents reminded to avoid leaving pets in hot cars

Jul 22, 2022

With the intense summer heat hitting Dartmouth, police are reminding residents not to leave their furry companions locked in their cars.

Recently, the department’s traffic division placed a sign on Faunce Corner Road reading “hotdogs belong in buns, not cars.”

Unlike humans, pets do not have sweat glands to help keep them cool. Instead, their source is through panting — which is inefficient. If kept in a hot car too long, pets can suffer brain damage and die from heatstroke. It is recommended pets remain home in a cool area with water and ice cubes.

Under Massachusetts state law, it is illegal to keep an animal confined in a vehicle when extreme heat or cold may threaten the animal's health. Pet owners who violate the law can face potential criminal charges.

The law also authorizes animal control officers, law enforcement officers and firefighters to enter the vehicle to prevent imminent injury or death of the animal.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the temperature inside a vehicle can rise almost 20 degrees in just 10 minutes, and almost 30 degrees in 20 minutes. Cracking the windows makes no difference.

If anyone spots a pet locked in a car, officials recommend trying to alert the driver if they can and then calling Animal Control or the police department.

Signs of distress to look out for include heavy panting, a high heart rate, disorientation, vomiting, and possible seizures. Pets should immediately be taken to a veterinarian if this is the case.