Summer isn’t coming… it’s here! And with that comes hiking, vacations, road trips and sizzlin’ hot temperatures. Every year, thousands of dogs die alone in hot cars. Every day pet owners do it. Police officers do it, even veterinarians do it. Regardless of who does it, these are 100 percent preventable deaths.

Let’s take a look at the numbers:

A temperature of 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit is typical for dogs, whereas humans’ normal body temperature is just 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit with an average range of about 97 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit. Take that and add some fur, and you’ve got one hot dog (no pun intended).

4 Things to do if you see a dog in a hot car:

1. Gather info
Note the car’s color, make and model, and write down the license plate number or take a picture of it.

2. Notify others
If there’s time, go into the nearest building and find a manager. Remember: It only takes minutes for a dog to suffer brain damage when the weather is hot. Time is of the essence!

Politely ask the manager to page the owner of the car. BE PERSISTENT!

3. Monitor the dog
Go back outside and wait by the car. (Don’t leave until the dog is safe!)

4. Call for help
If the owner doesn’t show up or doesn’t do anything, call animal control. If animal control can’t come immediately, call 911.

Now let’s talk about the unofficial 5th opinion: Break the car window and get the dog out.

On February 27th, 2015, the Washington Senate unanimously passed a bill (SSB5501) that makes leaving a pet locked in a car under dangerous conditions a civil offense. The bill states that people who leave an animal unattended in a car, or other enclosed space, where it might be harmed by heat, cold, or lack of water or fresh air will be subject to a $125 fine and may be charged with animal cruelty, a felony offense. The bill authorizes animal control officers and police to break in and rescued confined animals and clears them of liability for incidental property damage.

At this point, some of you might be asking: Is it okay to leave my dog in the car for a few minutes with the A/C running? If you leave your car running with the A/C on, a number of things can happen: a) a hijacker can steal your car and/or dog; b) a loose dog can accidentally throw the car into gear; c) the vehicle can run out of fuel; or d) the engine or A/C unit can fail.

Don’t let your dog be a statistic. Play it safe. Have someone wait outside the car with Fido while you run into the store, leave Fido at home or skip the trip.

This article is written in memory of K9 Rex, a 4 year old Belgian Malinois SWAT team dog, who died in his handler’s patrol car after finishing a shift. The handler forgot about him and when he went back outside, the dog was unresponsive. K9 Rex’s death was an accident, not a crime, but he’s dead nonetheless. RIP K9 Rex


Amy Pishner is Owner of Valor K9 Academy and the Head Trainer for VK9-Spokane. She ranks among the highest accredited trainers nationally and is a trusted American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizen evaluator and a proud member of the (IACP) International Association of Canine Professionals.