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Vet warns against leaving pets in hot cars, legislation would protect first responders who rescue those animals

EAST MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP, YORK COUNTY, Pa. -- As temperatures get warmer, veterinarians are warning people to not leave their pets in unattended, parked cars.

That's because the heat can cause serious health issues for our furry friends.

Veterinarians say if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet. Leaving a window cracked may seem like a good idea for your dog on an 85 degree day, but experts say the temperature inside the car can get to over 100 degrees in just ten minutes.

On hot summer days, some people may be tempted to just crack a car window for their pet.

Dr. Ivan Pryor, the owner of Dillsburg Veterinary Center says that’s not safe, and that little bit of air won’t keep your animal cool.

“Rolling down the window really doesn’t help much. It’s still hot inside that car," he said.

When a car sits for even just ten minutes when it’s hot outside, he says the temperature inside can climb rapidly, and that could put your pet at risk.

"First thing you’ll see is their respiratory rate will got up, so they’ll start panting, they’ll get nervous, agitated because they’re uncomfortable," added Dr. Pryor. '

A table shared by the Humane Society shows just how quickly the temperature can jump, and animals are left vulnerable.

"We can wind down our windows. We can turn on the air conditioning, but animals don’t have that ability," said State Representative Frank Farry.

State Representative Frank Farry held Bulmers, the Pennsylvania Capitol dog.

He's also a volunteer fire chief who backs House Bill 1216, legislation which would protect all first responders and humane officers from any potential lawsuits after rescuing a dog or cat from a hot car.

"We’re not looking for vigilantism. It's not, 'hey, we’re going into cars and busting windows'. There’s steps in place, but it will allow those first responders to make those decisions and have the protections they need," said Senator Rich Alloway.

Steps include: a reasonable search for the car's owner before the rescue and leaving a conspicuous note after rescuing the animal, according to Senator Alloway.

Some lawmakers call it a common sense bill.

"Just think about your car sitting out here for a half hour, and how much warmer it will be when you get in there," said Representative Farry.

Dr. Pryor says if you need to bring your pet somewhere, try to bring a friend along to sit with the animal and turn the air on in your car.

When in doubt, he says, leave the pet behind.

The Humane Society of the United States - Pennsylvania co-author of the bill, with Representatives Frank Farry and Dom Costa, is  encouraging constituents to contact their State Senator and ask them to urge Senate leadership schedule HB1216 for a vote and to support the bill with a yes vote.

Senator Alloway says he's confident the bill could be voted on this June.

More than 20 other states already have passed laws like House Bill 1216.

For anyone who notices a distressed pet in a car, here's what you can do according to the Humane Society of the United States:

  • Take down the car's make, model and license plate number.
  • If there are businesses nearby, notify their managers or security guards and ask them to make an announcement to find the car's owner. Many people are unaware of the danger of leaving pets in hot cars and will quickly return to their vehicle once they are alerted to the situation.
  • If the owner can't be found, call the non-emergency number of the local police or animal control and wait by the car for them to arrive. In several states good Samaritans can legally remove animals from cars under certain circumstances, so be sure to know the laws in your area and follow any steps required.