See a dog in a car…think before you break that window

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by Laura Pakis, Certified Professional Trainer and Blogger

It’s a nice sunny day. There’s a bit of a breeze.  You notice a parked car with dogs inside.  The window cracked open a bit.  As you walk past the car, you see the dogs are panting.  You heard it takes only seconds for a dog to overheat. It seems the dogs are suffering from the temperature.  Would you break the window to save the dogs?


Whatever your instincts might be telling you DO NOT break dogs out of cars unless you can answer the follow questions.

1.     Is the dog 100% in distress and on the verge of heat stroke or heat exhaustion?  One way to tell this dog is not in distress is you can see the dog panting.  He would be laying flat not moving if truly in distress.

2.    Would breaking the window and removing the dog cause more trauma than leaving the dog in the car?  Look at this from the dog’s point of view.  A stranger approaches, breaks a window causing glass to fly and a loud starting noise and then reaches for them.  What do you think the dog’s reaction might be?  My guess is you would get bitten, the dog would bolt and run away or both.

What should you do?

Bills that allow people to break into vehicles to save children and animals have been signed into law by Gov. John Kasich in Ohio and there are several other states which have similar laws.  The law does not protect people who recklessly break into vehicles or do more damage than is necessary to save the child or animal.

Consider taking these steps should you observe a dog in a hot car:

1.     Don’t leave the dog but observe the dog until their owner comes back. If their owner doesn’t come back and the dog is in distress (again, you truly need to know what heat exhaustion and heat stroke signs look like), contact the police or animal control and await further help.

2.    If you absolutely need to remove the dog, be prepared to restrain him.  Have the tools necessary to safely remove the dog from the vehicle and keep them safe.

Being a good Samaritan requires knowledge.  Unless you have thought completely through the scenario and are prepared to safely extract an unfamiliar dog from a vehicle and keep them safe, you have absolutely no business breaking a dog out of a car.


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