31 Companion Animals Endured Heat-Related Deaths in 2020—That We Know Of

The number of dogs and other companion animals who reportedly died from heat-related causes in 2020:

31

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Every year, PETA receives reports about dogs, cats, and other animals who have died after being left in hot cars or outside during the hot weather. In 2020 alone, thirty-one animals endured heat–related deaths and another 50 were rescued from the heat—and those are just the ones that were reported. Most almost certainly aren’t.

Year Deaths Deaths Rescues Rescues
2022 54 See the list. 469 See the list.
2021 59 See the list. 145 See the list.
2020 31 See the list. 50 See the list.
2019 53 See the list. 125 See the list.
2018 60 See the list. 93 See the list.


The following list is a compilation of heat-related deaths of companion animals reported in 2020:

Date of Death Location Number of Dogs or Other Animals Who Died Notes
9/5/2020 Montgomery County, Ohio 1 A dog who was regularly left outside tethered to a tree in direct sunlight without shade, food, or water died. Neighbors said that they had taken steps to help by giving the animal water, and one had called authorities on at least one occasion and left a note for the family. No charges have been filed.
9/2/2020 Darlington County, South Carolina 3 Three dogs died after the air conditioner in an animal shelter’s van malfunctioned. The dogs were waiting in the vehicle at a veterinary clinic for a scheduled weekly checkup.
8/22/2020 Las Vegas, Nevada 1 Police responded to a call about a dog chained up in a yard for days in the scorching heat (over 100 degrees) without shade or water. The neighbors spotted the dog earlier in the week, on Wednesday, and alerted animal control, but authorities did not respond until Saturday, at which point the dog had already died.
8/14/2020 Houston, Texas 1 A dog died after being left outside chained in the heat. The animal’s internal temperature was 106.5 degrees and external temperature was more than 122 degrees.
7/30/2020 Slidell, Louisiana 1 A 6-month-old puppy died after being left inside a hot car for over an hour outside a Walmart store. A passerby spotted the suffering animal and broke into the vehicle. Then police rushed the dog to an emergency veterinarian, but the puppy was declared brain dead and had to be euthanized. The animal’s internal temperature was more than 109 degrees. The owner was arrested and charged with aggravated cruelty to animals.
7/26/2020 Asbury Park, New Jersey 1 Over a dozen dogs and puppies were found inside a sweltering garage, and one was chained in the backyard without access to food or water. One of the puppies was initially unresponsive and later died.
7/18/2020 Harrison Township, Michigan 1 A dog—tethered without access to water or shelter—was found dead in a backyard.
6/29/2020-7/13/2020 El Paso, Texas 8 Police are investigating the deaths of seven dogs believed to have died from exposure to the heat. According to authorities, one dog was found tethered and tangled on a clothesline in the direct sun and another was found decomposed, abandoned in a crate with no food or water.
7/6/2020-7/10/2020 Kansas City, Kansas 3 According to the Great Plains SPCA, a dog died after being left in a hot car and two others died after being left outside in the heat. Two other dogs were rescued from a hot car outside a hotel.
7/8/2020 Norfolk County, Ontario, Canada   1 After running some errands, a dog’s owner forgot that the animal was in the car. Upon remembering, the person found the dog dead inside the hot vehicle. Charges are pending against the owner.
7/6/2020 Kansas City, Missouri 1 Animal services found a dog in a hot car with the windows partially rolled down. At the humane society, her internal temperature was 111 degrees, and she died.
7/3/2020 York County, Virginia 2 Fourteen cats and a dog were found inside a U-Haul van in a Walmart parking lot during 90-degree weather. One cat was pronounced dead at the scene, and the rest of the animals were rushed to a veterinary clinic, where a cat had to be euthanized because of his or her poor condition.
6/29/2020 Nashville, Tennessee  1 A dog was spotted inside a locked vehicle around 12 noon. An officer broke into the car to attempt a rescue, but the animal didn’t survive. The owner was charged with felony cruelty to animals.
6/27/2020 Maricopa, Arizona 1 A Maricopa Police Department K-9 died of a “heat-related incident.” No other details were available.
6/20/2020 Las Vegas, Nevada 1 Two dogs were left inside a locked cage in the sun, and one of them died. Temperatures inside the cage reached 145 degrees.
6/3/2020 High Ridge, Missouri 2 Two dogs died in a hot car outside a dog-training center during 90-degree weather. Their owner was attending a 90-minute lecture on becoming a paid dog trainer and reportedly left the car running with the air-conditioning on, but the vehicle shut off at some point.
Late May, 2020 Micanopy, Florida 1 A dog was euthanized after suffering from severe heatstroke during K9 training for the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.
2/19/2020 Hallandale Beach, Florida 1 A dog was left in a running car outside The Big Easy Casino. Someone then stole the vehicle and abandoned it a mile away. When the dog was discovered still inside the car 16 hours later, the animal was dead. It was 84 degrees outside, the engine was off, and the windows were rolled up.

The following list is a compilation of heat-related rescues of companion animals reported in 2020:

Date Location Number of Dogs or Other Animals Rescued Notes
8/16/2020 Clermont County, Ohio 1 Police responded to a call regarding a puppy left in a hot car parked outside a Meijer store on an 85-degree day. The officer broke the window of the vehicle to get to the puppy and supplied the animal with water. The puppy was placed in the custody of animal control.
8/15/2020 Toledo, Ohio 1 A dog was reportedly left in a hot car parked outside the Franklin Park Mall for over an hour during 90-degree temperatures. The owner was charged with cruelty to animals.
8/13/2020 Rawlins, Wyoming 1 Police responded to a call regarding a dog left in a hot car that may have been stolen. The dog was OK and taken to an animal shelter.
8/7/2020 Shelby, North Carolina 1 Police were called to the parking lot of a Golden Corral restaurant after a small dog was spotted inside a hot car. Police found the owner 20 minutes later and cited her for cruelty to animals.
7/30/2020 Richland, Washington 2 Police received several complaints about two dogs who were left inside a hot car while their owner was shopping. Officers provided the dogs with water and issued the owner a citation.
7/28/2020 San Jacinto, California 1 A dog was rescued after being left inside a hot car. Deputies said that the interior temperature was 131 degrees. The dog’s owner was arrested.
7/27/2020 Hillsborough County, Florida 1 A dog had to be rescued by police after being left inside a hot car while temperatures were in the low 90s.
7/27/2020 Batavia, New York 1 A dog was rescued after being left inside a hot car in a store parking lot. The animal was taken to the county animal shelter, and the owner was charged.
7/27/2020 Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada 2 attempted rescues Bystanders outside a Canadian Tire store tried all they could to free two dogs who had been left inside a hot car in the parking lot. Police were called but didn’t intervene, and the owner was also found but said that the dogs were fine. Eventually she drove off.
7/26/2020 Springfield, Michigan 2 Two pit bull terriers were left inside a hot car when it was 89 degrees outside. Their owner was arrested.
7/26/2020 Asbury Park, New Jersey more than 12 Over a dozen dogs and puppies were found inside a sweltering garage, and one was chained in the backyard without access to food or water. One of the puppies was initially unresponsive and later died.
7/20/2020 Morgan County, West Virginia 1 A couple was arrested after leaving their dog in a hot car parked outside a Food Lion store for at least 30 minutes. The temperature that day was in the upper 90s.
7/19/2020 Naugatuck, Connecticut 1 A man was charged with cruelty to animals after leaving his dog in a hot car parked outside a Walmart store for around 30 minutes. It was at least 99 degrees inside the vehicle.
7/14/2020 Delta, British Columbia 1 A woman was fined $200 after leaving her small dog inside a hot car in a mall parking lot for the second time.
7/12/2020 Brick, New Jersey 1 Police used a ladder to rescue a dog who was left on a third story balcony in the heat. The temperature on the balcony was exceeding 110 degrees.
7/11/2020 Steamboat Springs, Colorado 1 A dog was spotted in a hot car at a golf course. A passerby broke into the vehicle and rescued the dog after being unable to find the animal’s owner.
7/6/2020-7/10/2020 Kansas City, Kansas 2 According to the Great Plains SPCA, a dog died after being left in a hot car and two others died after being left outside in the heat. Two other dogs were rescued from a hot car outside a hotel.
7/7/2020 Niagara Falls, New York   1 A man was ticketed after leaving his dog in a hot car for more than a half hour outside a Walmart store during 90-degree temperatures.
7/3/2020 York County, Virginia 13 Fourteen cats and a dog were found inside a U-Haul van in a Walmart parking lot during 90-degree weather. One cat was pronounced dead at the scene, and the rest of the animals were rushed to a veterinary clinic, where a cat had to be euthanized because of his or her poor condition.
7/3/2020 Williamsville, New York 1 A 1-year old Chihuahua mix was found outside an animal rescue facility, covered with a thick blanket in a cage at 8 a.m. She was able to get the treatment she needed and will be put up for adoption.
6/30/2020 Norfolk County, Ontario, Canada 1 A man was ticketed after leaving his dog in a hot car outside a Walmart store.
6/30/2020 South Euclid, Ohio 1 A small dog was left inside a hot car during 86-degree temperatures. A police officer spotted the dog trying to jump out of the vehicle and intervened. The owner was charged with cruelty to animals.
6/23/2020 Clearwater, Florida 1 Police officers rescued a dog from a hot car in a Holiday Inn parking garage. When animal control arrived 10 or 15 minutes later, the temperature inside the car was 94.6 degrees, although officers reported that the temperature was over 100 degrees while the dog was inside the vehicle.
6/20/2020 Las Vegas, Nevada 1 Two dogs were left inside a locked cage in the sun, and one of them died. Temperatures inside the cage reached 145 degrees.
5/31/2020 Naples, Florida 1 A man spotted a dog inside a hot car in a hotel parking lot. He alerted staff, who were able to get the animal out of the vehicle and to an emergency veterinarian.
5/21/2020 Danbury, Connecticut 1 Police issued a man a misdemeanor summons after he allegedly left a dog inside a car with the windows rolled up.

No animal should endure a heat-related death. It’s inexcusable.

URGENT: Dogs trapped inside hot cars can DIE 🚫☀️🚙🐕If you spot a dog who needs help, here's what you can do: http://peta.vg/28na

Posted by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) on Thursday, June 7, 2018

As guardians, we must take these vital steps in order to protect our beloved family members:

1. Keep dogs and cats indoors.

Unlike humans, dogs can sweat only through their footpads and cool themselves by panting, which makes it extra hard for them to beat the heat. Being left outside in hot weather can cause heat stress, injury, or death.

2. Never leave your dog—or any other animal—in a hot car.

It’s like being baked alive. Heatstroke can happen in just minutes, even with the car’s windows partially rolled down. And opening a window slightly won’t help—parking in the shade or leaving water in the vehicle won’t prevent your dog from overheating, either.

3. If you see a dog in a hot car …

… call 911 immediately. While you’re waiting for the police to arrive, write down the car’s make, model, and license plate number, or take a picture of the vehicle and go to the nearest building to find a manager and ask that the owner of the car be paged. If authorities are unresponsive or too slow to respond and the animal’s life appears to be in imminent danger, find a witness who will back up your assessment before carefully removing the animal from the car and carrying him or her into the shade. PETA offers an emergency window-breaking hammer for help with intervening in these life-or-death situations. Don’t leave until the authorities arrive on the scene and you know that the dog is safe. Learn more about what to do if you see a dog in a hot car.

4. Recognize the symptoms of heatstroke, and take action if you see them.

Heatstroke is a potentially fatal emergency. Symptoms include restlessness, heavy panting, vomiting, lethargy, and lack of appetite or coordination. If a dog is exhibiting these signs, attempt to lower the body temperature by providing the animal with water and applying a cold towel to the head and chest. If someone is with you, one of you should take these steps in the car as the other drives the dog to a veterinarian.

5. Be mindful when walking a dog in hot weather.

On a hot day, the pavement on sidewalks can reach temperatures between 130 and 180 degrees, which is hot enough to hurt your dog’s feet and even seriously burn them. Here are some helpful tips when walking your companion in the heat:

  • Always test the pavement with the palm of your hand before setting out—if it feels hot, it’s too hot for Spot.
  • Walk early in the morning or late in the evening, when it’s cooler.
  • Choose shady routes.
  • Carry water, and take frequent breaks.
  • Never make dogs wear muzzles or halters that restrict their breathing.
  • Opt for a lightweight fabric collar or a nifty Swamp Cooler vest.
  • Walk—don’t run. Dogs will run to the point of collapse just to please you. At that point, it may be too late to save them.

Together, we can help drastically reduce the number of dogs and other animal companions who die in hot weather and even eliminate these tragedies altogether. Animals are counting on us—as their guardians and as good Samaritans—to keep them safe. We mustn’t let them down.

Take Action Now

The Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seats (HOT CARS) Act of 2017 aims to minimize the number of children and animals who die in hot cars every year by requiring that automakers equip all vehicles with technology that alerts drivers when a passenger remains in the backseat after the engine has been turned off. Sadly, since the bill was introduced, more deaths have occurred—and there will certainly be more in the months ahead. But we can prevent tragedies like these. Click below to help:

Make sure that all your friends and family know the potentially lifesaving hot weather tips above.

Watch this video, listen to this radio clip, and check out this ad to learn more about the reasons why you should never leave a dog in a hot car.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind