Two quick-thinking police officers and a compassionate shopper saved a tiny pup in Florida from becoming yet another victim of a hot car.
The shopper dialed 911 after discovering a puppy trapped inside a car on a 92-degree day, squealing, panting heavily, and panicking. Officers hurried to the scene, smashed in a window, pulled her to safety, and gave her water in their air-conditioned patrol car. They arrested the puppy’s owner and let animal control take her to be treated and placed up for adoption.
Just last year in the U.S. alone, at least 44 animals died after being left in hot cars. Those were only the reported cases, so the actual number is probably much higher.
To stop these tragic, preventable deaths, PETA has created a new lifesaving initiative: Jennie’s Project, named in honor of a sweet dog who shouldn’t have lost her life to human carelessness. Jennie was a Labrador/poodle mix and one of the 44 reported victims of hot cars in 2017. After she died, her owner took her to a vet, who promptly turned him in to authorities. Jennie was the second dog that he had allowed this to happen to. The owner was arrested and charged with cruelty to animals, but his punishment can’t undo the suffering that he inflicted on both dogs.
As summer approaches and in advance of National Heat Awareness Day (May 25), PETA is launching this new nationwide effort in cooperation with authorities, media, shopping centers, transportation departments, and others to inform people how dangerous hot cars can become in a matter of minutes, remind them never to leave children or animals behind in a car, and prepare them to help any trapped children or animals they see.
Malls and big-box stores, including Simon Property Group, Macerich, CBL Properties, and General Growth Properties—which together own nearly 400 shopping malls—will be running public service announcements and posting prominent warning signs.
PETA has also contacted the transportation departments in 30 states in which animals have died in hot cars and asked them to update the text of highway signs in their states to add hot car advisories. Vermont is posting PETA PSAs online, Idaho is adding warnings on dynamic message signs and social media channels, Pennsylvania will be adding warnings to social media accounts and information kiosks at welcome centers, Georgia will be mentioning animals in its warnings about leaving children in hot cars, and Iowa is pushing messages out on social media. Alabama, Montana, and Nevada are looking into ways to send warning messages to drivers. And we are consistently sending out media advisories urging all local media outlets to cover hot car dangers in states where temperatures are rising.
Animals and children can succumb to heatstroke quickly inside a parked car—even in the shade and even with the windows open a bit. On a 70-degree day, it takes only 20 minutes for the temperature inside a vehicle to soar to 99 degrees. On a 90-degree day, it takes only 10 minutes for the interior temperatures to reach 109 degrees. Leaving the car running with the air conditioning on isn’t a failsafe: AC units frequently malfunction in the summertime when cars overheat. Dog casualties in the past few years have included those who were in cars with the air conditioning left on. Leaving a child or an animal behind in a car is never worth the risk.
You Can Help Save Dogs’ Lives
- PETA will send you free leaflets that you can place at your veterinarian’s office, on community bulletin boards, in doctors’ offices, in apartment building common areas, and anywhere else people might see them.
- You can also contact the Action Team for help in getting our PSA about hot cars with Simon Cowell aired on your local television stations.
- If you’re purchasing a sunshade for your car this summer, consider ordering PETA’s “Too Hot for Spot” one to remind everyone who walks past your vehicle that hot cars kill.
- If you see an animal left alone in a hot car, immediately call the police or animal control. Take down the car’s color, make, model, and license plate number, and have the owner paged in the nearest store. If you can’t get anyone to help and the dog appears to be in immediate danger or distress, you may have to break a window and get the animal out, especially if he or she is vomiting, panting heavily, or appears lethargic or unconscious. PETA makes a small window hammer/seatbelt cutter for emergencies. Whatever you do, don’t leave until you know that the dog is safe. You may be the only person who can save that animal’s life.