After Death of Child in Hot Car, PETA Offers Tips for Safeguarding All Vulnerable Lives During Hot Weather

Group Warns Against Leaving Kids, Animal Companions in Parked Cars

For Immediate Release:
June 4, 2015

Lauren Rutkowski 202-483-7382

Panama City, Fla

In light of news reports that an 18-month-old girl died after being left in a car on an 83-degree day while her mother went to work at a Panama City elementary school, PETA asks that you please use the following lifesaving information.

No one—including kids, cats, dogs, or any other living being—should ever be left alone in a car. On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to between 100 and 120 degrees in just minutes, and on a 90-degree day, interior temperatures can reach as high as 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes. If you see a dog showing any symptoms of heatstroke—including restlessness, heavy panting, vomiting, lethargy, and lack of appetite or coordination—get the animal to shade immediately. You can lower a symptomatic dog’s body temperature by providing him or her with water, applying a cold towel to the animal’s head and chest, or immersing the dog in tepid (not ice-cold) water. Then immediately call a veterinarian.

“This incident should be taken as a warning that the most vulnerable beings among us—children and animals—need and deserve our protection,” says PETA Senior Director Colleen O’Brien. “A lifesaving rule of thumb is never to leave a child or animal inside a parked car, especially on hot—or even warm—days. Always leave dogs and cats at home during a heat wave.”

PETA makes the following suggestions for safeguarding animals:

  • Keep dogs indoors. Unlike humans, dogs can only sweat through their footpads and cool themselves by panting. Soaring temperatures can cause heat stress, injury, or death.
  • Provide them with water and shade. If animals must be left outside, they should be supplied with ample water and shade, and the shifting sun needs to be taken into account. Even brief periods of direct exposure to the sun can have life-threatening consequences.
  • Walk—don’t run. In very hot, humid weather, never exercise dogs by having them run alongside you while you cycle or jog. Dogs will collapse before giving up, at which point, it may be too late to save them.
  • Avoid hot cars. Never leave an animal inside a parked car in warm weather, even for short periods of time with the windows slightly open. Dogs trapped inside parked cars can succumb to heatstroke within minutes—even if a car isn’t parked in direct sunlight.
  • Never transport animals in the bed of a pickup truck. This practice is dangerous—and illegal in many cities and states—because animals can catapult out of a truck bed on a sudden stop or choke if they jump out while they’re tied up.
  • Stay alert and save a life. Keep an eye on all outdoor animals. Make sure that they have adequate water and shelter. If you see an animal in distress, provide him or her with water for immediate relief and then contact humane authorities right away.

PETA’s warm-weather public service announcement featuring Laura Bell Bundy is available for download here. For even more tips, visit

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