Never Leave Pets in Vehicles & Other Summer Tips

posted on Wednesday, June 8, 2016 in News

Every summer, hundreds of cats and dogs die needlessly after they are left inside cars. During this time of year, the Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL) receives about 5 calls each day alerting us to pets locked in cars.

Pets should never be left unattended in a car when the temperature is more than 70 degrees, even if only for a few minutes. It doesn’t take long for an animal to overheat. When it's 80 degrees outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 99 degrees or higher within ten minutes. Leaving windows cracked does little to lower the temperature inside the car. With temperatures climbing throughout the summer, it is even more imperative that pets are left at home.

"Summertime heat can be brutal, especially for pets," said Josh Colvin, Operations Manager for ARL Animal Care & Control, "Not only is it dangerous to leave your pet in a warm car, the Animal Control Officers are taking a tough stance against this unnecessary crime with a citation to violators to appear in court." Owners may face a simple misdemeanor and fine if found guilty.

The ARL reminds people to act immediately if they see a distressed animal in an unattended car. In the city of Des Moines, residents can call ARL Animal Care & Control at (515) 283-4811. Residents outside of Des Moines can call their local law enforcement's non-emergency phone number.

Signs for Businesses

The ARL has created signs for businesses to display to remind customers never to leave pets or kids in vehicles. If you are a business owner and would like a sign to display at your business, contact Stephanie Filer at

Other Summer Tips for Pets

A few other tips to keep pets happy and healthy this summer are:

  • When your dog is spending time outdoors, always provide shelter out of direct sunlight and make sure they have access to cool, fresh water.
  • If possible, on very hot days keep your pets inside with the air conditioning on or fans blowing.
  • Exercise your pet in the morning or late evening, when the weather is coolest - do not overdo it. Keep in mind that even with a breeze, the cement can be very warm and even burn or blister the pads of your dog's paws.
  • Make sure to securely latch doors so your pets don't get out of the house and become lost. If your pet does get out and you aren't able to find them, check to see if your pet has been found by someone else or make a post for your lost pet.
  • Don't let your pet become overweight. While extra pounds aren't good for your pet anytime of the year, in the summer, they may have a harder time adjusting to the warmer temperatures and show signs of distress.
  • Always consult a professional groomer before clipping or shaving your dog’s coat. Even though your pet may look hot, their coat actually helps keep them cool and protects them from getting sunburnt. Brushing your dog regularly can help get rid of any loose hairs and allows for better air circulation.
  • Keep pets away from auto coolant puddles in parking spaces or garages - it's poisonous!
  • Don't let your pets ride in the back of a pickup truck.