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Police break hot car window to rescue dog

How long is it okay to leave your pet in the car during the summer months? The answer is zero minutes.

BRIGHTON, Colo. — Running into the store for “just a minute” can be fatal for pets.

Brighton Police Department (BPD) is issuing a reminder for dog and pet owners about leaving animals in hot cars even if it's for “just a minute.”

BPD said Tuesday they had to break a car window to get a dog out of a hot car.

BPD said the dog was left in the car for more than 20 minutes and the internal car temperature was 113 degrees, even when it was only 84 degrees outside.

The owner was also issued a summons for animal neglect and, according to BPD, understood and thanked the officers for the teaching moment.

In July, Denver Animal Protection (DAP) said it had already received 323 calls about dogs left inside cars during extreme temperatures and 394 about animals without shelter in extremely hot temperatures.

DAP asked dog owners to be mindful of the safety of their pets as leaving dogs inside cars during hot conditions can be life-threatening. Even if temperatures seem mild and the windows are left open, temperatures inside cars can go up to 120 degrees very quickly, DAP said.

Anyone can call 311 in Denver to report sightings of animals in unsafe conditions, and legal immunity is given to those who break into a car to rescue a pet — or person — from an overheated car.  

Protecting pets from extreme heat

  • Don’t transport animals in the beds of pickup trucks. It’s illegal to let dogs ride loose in truck beds, and the hot metal can burn their paws. Exposure to direct sunlight can be just as harmful as being left inside an enclosed vehicle. 
  • Keep walks during peak daytime hours to a minimum. 
  • Be mindful of hot pavement that can burn your pet’s feet. If you can’t hold your bare hand on pavement for 10 seconds, then it’s too hot for your dog to walk on. 
  • Provide pets with shelter and water. Adequate outdoor shelter includes doghouses, porch areas or similar structures that protect an animal from the elements.

Dogs’ internal temperatures are also more prone to rising rapidly in these conditions because they sweat in small amounts through their nose and paws, DAP stated. These conditions can cause dogs to overheat, which can lead to deadly heat strokes and organ failure. 

Elderly dogs, puppies, dark-haired and flat-faced dogs, and dogs with obesity or other pre-existing conditions are more vulnerable to overheating, DAP said.

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