Too Hot for Spot®
The Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) annual safety campaign, “Too Hot for Spot”, reminds pet owners about the dangers of leaving an animal in a hot car.
When temperatures begin to rise, so do concerns about animal safety. Even when the mercury dips below 80 degrees, the threat for heat stroke still exists. Pets don’t sweat the way humans do, making them unable to cool their bodies efficiently in the heat.
Keep your pet safe and healthy by following these important basic guidelines:
- Prevention is always your best bet. Whenever possible, leave your pet at home in a cool humidity and temperature-regulated room.
- If your pet must be outdoors, find a shady spot with ample air flow to prevent overheating.
- Hydration is key, so keep a bowl of cold water accessible at all times.
- Limit exercise to the morning or evening hours when temperatures are at their coolest.
- Never leave your pet alone in a parked car—even with the air conditioner on or the windows cracked. Learn the dangerous consequences of leaving your pet in a hot car.
This important message, as well as the efforts of ARL’s Advocacy Department and our many supporters, turned ARL’s Too Hot for Spot campaign into permanent law.
Too Hot for Spot Becomes Law
What can first responders do?
First responders –including Animal Control Officers, law enforcement officials, and firefighters- may, after making reasonable efforts to locate the motor vehicle’s owner, enter the vehicle by any reasonable means to protect the health and safety of animals.
The entry must be for the sole purpose of assisting the animal. The responders may not search the vehicle or seize items unless otherwise permitted by the law. The first responder must leave a written notice with the office or firefighter’s name, title, and the address of the location where the animal may be retrieved.
What can regular citizens like me do?
If a citizen finds an animal in a vehicle, the citizen must make reasonable efforts to locate a motor vehicle’s owner.
A citizen shall not enter a motor vehicle to protect an animal in immediate danger unless the citizen notifies law enforcement or calls 911 and determines that the motor vehicle is locked or there is no other reasonable means for exit; does not use more force than reasonably necessary to enter the motor vehicle and remove the animal; and has a good faith and reasonable belief, based upon known circumstances, that entry into the vehicle is necessary to prevent imminent danger or harm to the animal.
What else does this new law include?
This new law also amends the anti-tethering statue, which means that dogs cannot be:
- Tethered to a stationary object for longer than 5 hours in a 24-hour period
- Tethered outside from 10:00PM until 6:00AM, unless not for more than 15 minutes and when the owner, guardian, or keeper is present
- Confined outside when a weather advisory, warning, or watch is issued by local, state, or federal authority; or when environmental conditions such as extreme heat, cold, rain, snow, or hail pose as adverse risk to health or safety of the dog, based upon the dog’s breed, age, or physical condition and unless tethered for less than 15 minutes.
Additionally, law enforcement officers from ARL and MSPCA, who come upon situations where this new law is being violated, now have the authority to issue citations to violators when an Animal Control Officer is unavailable or unresponsive.
What is heat stroke?
Heat stroke is a serious condition caused by your pet’s body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. Immediate medical attention by a veterinarian is required.
What makes cats and dogs susceptible to heat stroke?
Pets don’t sweat the way humans do, which makes them unable to cool their bodies efficiently in the heat. If their core body temperature rises too high (typically 104 degrees or higher), they run the risk of going into shock or organ failure.
Which symptoms should I look for when trying to diagnose heat stroke in my pet?
More obvious symptoms of potential heatstroke in cats and dogs include: difficulty breathing, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness. More subtle symptoms include: heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, excessive thirst, lethargy.
Is there anything I can do until my pet receives medical attention?
While you wait for assistance, apply cool wet towels to the groin and “underarm” areas. If your pet is alert enough, try having them slowly sip cold water. Even if your pet begins to appear better or more alert, you should still make an emergency visit to your pet’s veterinarian as only they will be able to diagnose whether or not your pet is suffering from heat stroke.
How can I protect my cat or dog from getting heat stroke altogether?
Prevention is always your best bet. On hot days, leave your pet at home in a cool humidity and temperature-regulated room and keep them hydrated with a bowl of cold water accessible at all times. If your pet must be outdoors, find a shady spot with ample air flow and limit exercise to the morning or evening hours when temperatures are at their coolest.