As the weather begins to warm up this spring, please remember that leaving a pet unattended is not only unsafe, it's also against the law.
A Washington state law passed in 2015 made it a civil offense subject to a fine of $125 for leaving an animal in vehicle when weather conditions may make it unsafe. The law also protects police and animal control from liability if they have to break into a vehicle.
This law does NOT, however, protect a private citizen against liability, so if you see a pet in unsafe conditions in an unattended vehicle, don't try to break in -- call 911. Even though your intentions may be genuine, you could still be subject to liability for damage of the vehicle.
What temperatures are unsafe? The answer may surprise you. While the air temperature outside may be moderate, a car with the windows shut will still heat up very quickly, even on a cloudy day. If the outdoor temperature is just 70 degrees Fareinheit, the interior of a car will reach 89 degrees in just 10 minutes.
So please, do not leave your pets in the car, even for a short time, even when it doesn't seem that hot outside. And keep a lookout for pets showing signs of distress in vehicles, like excessive panting or listlessness. If you do see an aminal in distress, call 911.
- Washington Senate passes bill on pets in locked cars
- Estimated Vehicle Interior Air Temperature v. Elapsed Time