Danny Trejo is best known for his rugged roles and tough exterior, but when it comes to his dogs, he’s tenderhearted as can be. In his debut PETA Latino campaign, Trejo is joined by his dogs—The Duke, John Wesley Hardin, Penny Lane, and Sgt. Pepper—to remind folks not to let their “ride or die” die in a hot car.
In an interview with Whistle, Trejo said, “I think the good Lord wants us living up to all our responsibilities, which one of them is taking care of these guys.” And that means not leaving them in hot cars!
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 75-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to 94 degrees in just 10 minutes, and on a 90-degree day, it can get up to 109 degrees in just minutes.
Unlike humans, dogs can sweat only through their footpads and cool themselves by panting, which isn’t effective when they’re trapped in a car with only hot air to breathe. As the temperature climbs, dogs endure agonizing symptoms: They go into shock, vomit blood, urinate, have diarrhea, and can experience multi-organ failure, cardiopulmonary arrest, fluid buildup in the lungs, muscle tremors, seizures, unconsciousness, and death.
If you see a dog trapped in a hot car, take the following steps:
1. Gather information.
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 time allows, go into the nearest business and find a manager. (Remember that it takes only minutes for a dog to sustain 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. Inform the guardian.
When the dog’s guardian appears, share some facts about what dogs endure when they’re trapped in cars on hot days—and be sure to carry PETA literature on the topic.
5. Call for help.
If the car’s owner doesn’t show up or doesn’t do anything to provide the dog with relief, call animal control. If animal control can’t come immediately, call 911. If all else fails, do what’s necessary to save the animal’s life. Get the dog into shade as quickly as possible, reduce his or her body temperature with lukewarm water, and immediately call a veterinarian.
In 2021, at least 59 companion animals died from heat-related causes and another 145 were rescued from potentially deadly situations—and since these numbers include only incidents reported in the media, the actual figures are surely far higher.
Please never leave your dog alone in a parked vehicle, and make sure that your family, friends, and neighbors know not to leave dogs in hot cars. If you see a dog alone in a hot car, you may think you need Machete of Spy Kids fame to free them, but our emergency hammer might be a bit safer.