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What Would You Do if You Saw a Dog in a Hot Car? ASPCA Survey Reveals One Third of Adults Did Nothing

Poll underscores need for vigilance from both pet owners and the general public

NEW YORK, Aug. 26, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A newly released poll by the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today revealed that good intentions don't always equate to action when it comes to rescuing dogs in parked cars on hot days. In a nationwide telephone survey, an overwhelming majority ̶ 93 percent ̶ of adults who have never encountered a dog in a car on a hot day said they would do something to help, but of those adults who actually faced such a situation, only 67 percent took action.

ASPCA logo.

"Reacting responsibly to the dangerous situation of a dog left in a hot car is critical during these warm months," said Dr. Louise Murray, vice president of the ASPCA Animal Hospital. "There is a startling gap between those who claim they would act and those who actually did something when faced with the reality of a dog at risk. Closing that gap and taking action could mean the difference between life and death for these animals."

Additional findings from the survey showed:

  • 51 percent of those who saw or heard a dog in a hot car made attempts to look for the owner, making it the most common action taken. This was also the top action those surveyed said they would take in a hypothetical situation (65 percent).
  • 24 percent said they made attempts to rescue the dog themselves and 23 percent called the police.
  • Women were much more likely than men to have taken an action (75 percent versus 58 percent) when seeing a dog in a hot car.

With summer finally making an appearance across much of the country this week, the ASPCA cautions the public about leaving pets in cars. On an 85-degree day, it only takes 10 minutes for the inside of a car to reach 102 degrees, even when windows are cracked open. Within 30 minutes, the interior temperature can reach a staggering 120 degrees. Unable to control their body temperature in these extremes, dogs can quickly overheat and suffer extensive organ damage, heatstroke and suffocation, which can all be fatal. When encountering a dog left in a hot car, it's important to locate the dog's owner or contact local law enforcement immediately. Remain on scene until help arrives so that care can be given quickly and efficiently. The ASPCA urges all pet owners to leave their animals at home when running errands, to avoid exposing animals to lethal temperatures in unattended cars. While at home, pets should always have unrestricted access to cool areas with plenty of fresh drinking water. If you suspect your pet is overheating, contact your veterinarian right away.

About the ASPCA®
Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first animal welfare organization in North America and serves as the nation's leading voice for animals. More than two million supporters strong, the ASPCA's mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. For more information, please visit, and be sure to follow the ASPCA on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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