How hot does it get in a car?
Ever been in a hot car without air conditioning? It starts off uncomfortable but can become just plain scorching. That nice black interior makes it worse.
On a 72-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can heat up to 115 degrees within an hour, according to PETA. An 80-degree day means that car heat can soar up to 100 degrees within 10 minutes.
And leaving the window cracked doesn't do much to alleviate the heat, said Katherine Wood, a criminal justice fellow at the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Numerous studies show leaving the window doesn't allow nearly enough air flow to help an unattended animal, Wood said.
"It's problematic for dogs because, unlike us, they can't sweat, for the most part," Wood said. "They're a lot more susceptible to overheating, and they can go into heat strokes very quickly."
What if I need to leave my dog in the car while I run a quick errand?
Don't, Wood urges.
Even a five-minute errand could be fatal to your dog.
And air conditioning isn't reliable.
"Technology fails and, unfortunately, can result in a tragedy," she said.
A German shepherd in Omaha, Nebraska, died recently after being left in an air-conditioned SUV for nearly three hours on an 87 degree day, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
"This is a good example ... in extreme heat, when it's very warm and humid, that leaving air conditioning running in a car ... did not provide enough ventilation for the dog," an animal control officer told the newspaper.
Wood encourages owners who are thinking about leaving their little best friend in the car to leave them at home. It's not worth the risk, she said.
MLive.com file photo
How can I help a dog in a parked car?
No one wants to see an animal suffering. But depending on the state you're in, you could be fined or spend time behind bars for smashing that window.
If you see an animal in an unattended car, Wood said, call local law enforcement or animal control and try to locate the owner.
If there are nearby businesses, ask someone to page the owner of the pet. If the dog appears in distress or immediate danger, call 911, Wood said.
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Sophie Nieto-Munoz | For NJ.com
So, can I break the window?
There is no "hot car" law in New Jersey. Even though it's illegal to leave an animal in a car in the Garden State, no one has the authority to break into a vehicle to save the pet — not even law enforcement.
So it's especially important not to hesitate when contacting authorities, Wood said.
"Police can still seize the animal and arrest the owner, because it's illegal."
However, “good Samaritan” laws exist in California, Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio and Tennessee, allowing you to break a car window to save a pet. In 19 other states, including New York, Delaware and Virginia, only public officials such as law enforcement and humane officers can legally break into a car to rescue the animal.