Just a Few Minutes Can Be Deadly: Never Leave Your Dog in the Car

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2 min read

Following the death of Aron, a beloved K-9 with the Houston Police Department (HPD), inside a hot car, PETA has an important message for dog guardians: Never leave your dog in a car unattended. Like many agencies across the country, HPD has emergency alarm systems in its K-9 vehicles to alert the dogs’ handlers if the temperature inside the vehicle reaches a certain threshold. Reports indicate that when Aron’s partner returned to the patrol car after leaving the K-9 in it with the air conditioning running (for an unspecified period of time), the officer found that the engine had unexpectedly shut down—and the AC had turned off. The alarm system, which is supposed to sound the horn, activate emergency cooling fans, roll down the windows, and alert the K-9’s handler, had failed to engage. Aron was immediately rushed to an emergency veterinarian, but he succumbed to heatstroke.

The HPD is investigating what went wrong with the vehicle and having all cars that transport K-9s inspected to prevent other incidents like this. PETA contacted the department to express condolences for Aron’s death and to implore the HPD to implement standard operating procedures in order to prevent K-9s from being left unattended in vehicles in the future.

The takeaway from Aron’s death is simple: There’s no reason for the average citizen to put the life of their companion at stake to run an errand. If even specialty cars equipped with emergency fail-safes still fail, how can you trust that your dog will be safe left inside a standard car with the AC running?

Is It OK to Leave a Dog in the Car With the AC On?

As Aron’s tragic story makes clear, you can’t count on the air conditioning to stay on in a car. Every year, dogs suffer and die when their guardians make the mistake of leaving them in a parked car—even for “just a minute”—while they run an errand. Parked cars are death traps for dogs: On a 70-degree day, the temperature inside a vehicle can soar to 99 degrees in 20 minutes, and on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can reach as high as 109 degrees in just 10 minutes.

If you see a dog left alone in a hot car, note the vehicle’s color, make, model, and license plate number. Have the car’s owner paged inside the nearest buildings, and if the owner doesn’t show up, call local humane authorities or the police. Have someone keep an eye on the dog. Don’t leave the scene until the situation has been resolved.

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