Latest Deadly Incident Prompts Request for Signs Alerting Drivers That Children and Dogs Can Die From Heatstroke Within Minutes
For Immediate Release:
July 30, 2018
Audrey Shircliff 202-483-7382
Birmingham, Ala. – In response to the death of a dog who was left in a hot car earlier this month in a Trussville, Alabama, Walmart parking lot, PETA sent a letter this morning calling on the company’s CEO, Doug McMillon, to require all Walmart stores to install signs in their parking lots reminding customers of the danger of leaving an animal or a child in a hot car.
In the letter, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—points out that there have been multiple child and dog deaths in Walmart parking lots in recent years. So far this summer, at least 39 animals and 29 children across the country have died as a result of being trapped in hot cars. And these are just the incidents that have been reported.
“As the Trussville community recently saw firsthand, a parked car can be a death trap for dogs or children who can’t escape as temperatures soar and their bodies shut down,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is urging Walmart to help prevent future tragedies by reminding customers never to leave vulnerable family members in the car.”
For more information, please visit PETA.org.
PETA’s letter to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon follows.
July 30, 2018
Doug McMillon, CEO
Dear Mr. McMillon,
I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide. We are so pleased that some Walmart stores have signs to remind customers of the danger of leaving an animal in a hot car—thank you for that. There is one vital next step that we hope you will take right away, as recent deaths in Walmart parking lots show that it is needed. Please, will you require all your stores to post lifesaving signage?
So far this summer, at least 39 animals and 24 children have died as a result of being trapped in hot cars. And it’s not even August. Last summer, 44 animals and 42 children died in hot cars. These figures don’t include the instances that are not reported and never make it to the media.
In the past few years, there have been at least four such deaths in Walmart parking lots, including a dog who died in a Trussville, Alabama, Walmart parking lot just this month. And here are a few more examples of fatal incidents:
- A baby died after being left in a hot car in a San Antonio Walmart parking lot.
- A dog named Waldo died of heat exhaustion after being left in a hot car at a Crestview, Florida, Walmart.
- A toddler died after a couple left him in a hot car in a northeast Alabama Walmart.
- A 6-month-old baby was rescued after being found screaming, shaking, and sweating in a hot car at a Spartanburg, South Carolina, Wal-Mart.
While these tragic situations seem unconscionable, it’s well established that people operate at the subconscious level (on “autopilot”) when engaged in routine behavior. Research shows that visual reminders—such as warning signs—can trigger parts of the brain that are inactive while we’re in that mental mode.
These deaths are heartbreaking, and we can help prevent more of them. Because such fatalities can and have occurred in Walmart parking lots, will you please act to ensure that signage is posted at all your stores to remind customers of the danger of leaving babies and animal companions in hot cars?
Very truly yours,
Ingrid E. Newkirk