Animals in Vehicles

Dog in car

It might be warm out, but just think how hot it is in a vehicle!

A nice sunny day is the perfect opportunity to take a lazy drive around town and do some errands. But, you don’t want to leave Rover at home alone when he does so love a car ride. So it's "OK, come on in boy, let’s go for a ride". You dart along here and there, play at the park and remember something you need to buy at the store. You think “It’ll be OK, I’ll just run in real quick.” But inside you see a neighbor and start talking about the barbecue coming up next week. You then take extra time to pick out what you really want to buy, bring it up front and find, of course, there’s always a line which takes even more time. By the time you get back to the car, you see there is something wrong with Rover.

On a 90 degree day, the inside temperature of a car can rise to 124 degrees in 30 minutes. (See below chart.) Animals can take some heat (the healthy body temperature of a dog is 100-102.5 degrees), but prolonged exposure to heat can lead to heatstroke. Dogs lack the ability to tell us how bad the heat is hurting them. Local Veterinarians opinions differ somewhat, but agree that calculating temperatures at which the heat affects each individual dog is difficult. An internal temperature of a vehicle should not be over 70-80 degrees and leaving a dog in a car on a 90 degree (or on a 32 degree or lower) day for more than 10 minutes is not recommended. Cracking the windows does not cut it either. The animal needs full ventilation and shade.

Car Chart.jpg

The police department receives dozens of complaints like this every year. We will come out and we will evaluate the situation on a case-by-case basis. If we see that the animal is not in distress, we may still try to contact the owner to inform them of the complaint and to educate them on the matter. We take into account the outside temperature, the appearance and breed of a dog, the time elapsed and the ventilation of the vehicle. Leaving an animal in a vehicle under such unsafe conditions is a Class C misdemeanor. Second and subsequent violations are Class B misdemeanors. Read the Illinois law. That said, not all complaints result in a charge being filed. Effective January 1, 2016, it can be a Class A misdemeanor if the animal is injured or dies. Here's that part of the llinois law.

If we see that the animal appears in distress, we can act. State law (510 ILCS 70/7.1) gives us permission to enter a vehicle by any reasonable means after we make a reasonable attempt to locate an owner.

In conclusion, please leave Rover at home rather than take him with you. He may be disappointed, but imagine how happy he will be to see you when you come back home. In the long run, it is better for everyone.