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Dogs Left in Hot Cars - What the Law Says

A dog in a car with the windows closed.

Latoya White was doing some shopping on August 14, 2018 at Norfolk Premium Outlets when she spotted a dog trapped in a hot car and dialed the non-emergency line.

White took pictures of the dog while she waited for Animal Control to show up.

Firefighters and police officers responded to the call. Officials shattered a window were and firefighters were able to open and remove the dog.

The fire department measured the temperature inside the vehicle and reported it to be 120 degrees.

The dog was taken to a shelter, and that after being found to be in stable condition, was released to its owners. The owners were cited.

Why Leaving a Pet in a Car Can Be Dangerous

Dogs and cats cannot perspire and can only dispel heat by panting and through the pads of their feet. Being left in a hot car can lead to heat stroke, brain damage and death in pets as well as people. Police officers say the temperature in a car can go up 10 degrees every hour that it is in the sun. Sadly, during the summer months, Animal Protection responds daily to dogs in hot cars.

What the Law Says

Leaving a pet in a vehicle on warm days can be against the law by Va. Code. Ann. § 3.2-6503, failure to provide adequate care to a companion animal. It may also be considered Cruelty to Animals under Virginia Code § 3.2-6570.

Additionally, a concerned citizen might be tempted to break a window to free an animal left unintended in a hot car, but Virginia, unlike some states, only has a law protect emergency responders or animal control officers from liability for any property damage.

What Virginia Citizens Should Do

  1. Make every reasonable effort possible to locate the pet’s owner.
  2. Call local police and animal control and report the incident.
  3. Remain with the pet until help arrives.
  4. 4. If the animal is in imminent danger and help has not yet arrived, you’ll have to use your own judgement, considering the possible legal ramifications of breaking and entering to save the animal.

Do you have a legal matter you wish to speak to an attorney about? Call us today at (855) 880-8163. We proudly serve Norfolk, Newport News, and the surrounding Virginia areas.

another dog in a car