What You Can/Can Not Do When You See A Dog In a Hot Car in Maine
We're gearing up for a really hot stretch here in Maine. That means fun in the sun, beach time, a cold beer and cornhole, and burgers on the grill.
Summer-like weather also brings to light people who should never own animals.
It happens every year. People take Fido for a ride to run errands and leave poor Fido in the car.
According to TemperatureSensei.com, even a cooler day such as 70 degrees, after just 30 minutes in the car, the interior of the vehicle can reach 104 degrees. On a 90 degree day like we have coming up, it can reach 109 degrees after just 10 minutes.
So what does it look like if Fido overheats? It could start off as simple as panting with breaths increasing in both speed and noise. Fido could also begin convulsing, vomit, or have diarrhea. Worst case scenario, Fido could die from cardiac arrhythmia, according to the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation.
The threat of heat exhaustion and heatstroke should concern any pet owner. That's why, oftentimes, it's incredibly jarring to see an animal helpless inside a car. Our instincts are to do whatever it takes to get the animal out.
However, Maine law doesn't explicitly allow just anyone to be an animal rescue vigilante.
According to Maine law (Maine 7 MRSA § 4019), authorization to rescue an animal from a car is only explicitly given to specific individuals such as a law enforcement officer, animal control officer, and select others. Only those individuals are immune from criminal or civil liability.
A few years back, Bangor PD took on this issue head-on on their Facebook page in a delightfully cheeky way after a post had gone viral instructing people on how to break a window of a car to rescue an animal and not get in trouble. It just wasn't true.
What it boils down to is, if you see something concerning, call the police and report what you're seeing. They'll either send someone immediately or give you further direction.
The Humane Society of the United States suggests recording the vehicle's make, model, and plate number, and to notify nearby businesses in an attempt to page the vehicle's owners before contacting the police.
So please, be smart. Leave your pet at home on the warmer days. That way, those of us who come across your pet in your car aren't tempted to bust every single one of your windows.