Dog dies after being found unattended in hot car

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Officials with Salt Lake County Animal Services are reminding Utahns to not leave their dogs unattended in a hot car after one died Tuesday.

Around 3:30 pm, an animal control officer responded to a call for a dog in distress in a vehicle.

“When the officer got there, the dog was already convulsing and breathing really heavy and having seizures,” Randee Lueker with Salt Lake County Animal Services said.

The officer pulled the dog out of an unlocked door and tried to cool it down and administer first aid, but the animal — who was left in the car for over an hour — ultimately stopped breathing.

“Temperatures reached over 95 degrees here in Salt Lake City,” Lueker said.

Shortly after the dog, described as a Lab Shepherd mix, was pulled out of the car, officials said the owner was found at a nearby business — at approximately 700 South and 900 West — and cited for animal cruelty.

“He was in a store, forgot about his dog,” Lueker said.

According to a press release from Salt Lake County Animal Services Tuesday evening, “On average, animal control officers with Salt Lake County Animal Services respond to approximately 500 calls a year for dogs left in hot cars. On a 70-degree day, the temperature in the car can soar to 116 degrees in as little as 10 minutes, causing a dog to suffer and die a painful death.”

Officials went on to say that dogs can’t release heat from sweating like humans can, which means their internal body temperature rise quickly. That can cause them to get heat stroke and possibly die.

“Senior dogs, puppies, and those with flatter faces, suffer even more in hot weather,” the release stated.

“We plead with everyone, please leave your dog at home, unless you’re able to take them inside with you, unless you’re able to keep them with you,” Lueker said. “Our good rule of thumb is, if it’s over 70 degrees outside, don’t leave your dog in the car ever, for any length of time.”

What you should do

If you see an animal in distress in a parked car, here’s steps to take:

  • If you see a pet inside a vehicle excessively panting, non-responsive, drooling, or listless, call 911.
  • Take a photo of the pet, the license plate, and give that information to animal control officers.
  • Ask managers of nearby businesses to page the owner to return to their vehicle immediately. If the animal is not showing signs of distress, but you are concerned, you may wish to stay by the vehicle to monitor the situation until the owner returns.

What not to do

  • Never break a window of a vehicle on your own to pull out a pet, you could be liable for damages. In Utah, pets do not fall under the umbrella of the Good Samaritan Law.
  • Don’t just leave the A/C on. Some people may leave a sign saying, “the A/C is on.” Your pet can still end up at risk if the air conditioning stops working, it’s not a guaranteed solution. It’s best to leave your pet at home where they can lounge in a comfy, cool place, with plenty of water.

Signs of pet heatstroke

  • Exaggerated panting (or the sudden stopping of panting)
  • Rapid or erratic pulse
  • Salivation, anxious or staring expression
  • Weakness and muscle tremors or lack of coordination
  • Convulsions or vomiting, and collapse

Related stories

Most recent Utah stories

Debbie Worthen

More stories you may be interested in


Leave a Comment