Join Our Community of Dog Lovers!

Subscribe now so that you get email alerts about all new content and/or updates from Champion of My Heart!  +

FREE e-book "8 Things to Know About Veterinary Care"

July 19, 2011

The case of these stolen dogs raised some debate over leaving dogs alone in cars, even when temps are not hot at all. I know what we consider safe for our pups, but I’d love to know more about your tipping points. Please take this poll.


[polldaddy poll=5237530]


[polldaddy poll=5237540]


[polldaddy poll=5237547]


You can click “view results” to see how readers are voting in the poll, but we’ll report the results next week. Stay tuned! And, feel free to comment in more detail in the usual comment spot, if you choose “other” on any of these questions … or even if you don’t!


best dog blog champion of my heartLilly and I still need your help and your votes. You can vote each day (1-2 times) through this FRIDAY, July 29. Bonus love if you can get your family and friends to vote for us too!

Please VOTE Champion of My Heart as Best Dog Blog!


About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

  1. I leave my dogs in my suv quite often, but I’ve also got it “tricked out” to keep it cool and breezy. Sunshades, screens for the windows so I can keep all windows rolled down all the way, and a solar panel wired to a big fan that sits in one window to produce a cross-draft. They have plenty of water and shade and are much happier than being left at home. 🙂

  2. I am sensitive to heat so am very aware of what it feels like to be too hot. Dogs need to have air ventilation on hot summer days. This year a good part of the country in under extreme heat and extra care has to be taken for any animal left in a car.
    It doesn’t bother me to see dogs in a car alone if the windows, all of them, are down a little ways and it is in the shade. I do believe there are times when it is absolutely necessary to leave them for a short time, a few minutes.
    Our dogs to most of us are like one of the family. Most of us wouldn’t leave our children in the car so why would we leave our dogs in the car. There are always a few exceptions. I get really mad when I see kids and dogs that have been left in a car in a mall parking area. You know they are going to be there for awhile and there is usually no shade.
    People do need to be aware of how high the temp. can get in a car in a very short period of time. We need to be wise, attentive, and protective of our wonderful dog.

  3. I believe that cities should have special parking places that dog-owners can pay to use. These spaces would have complete shade (like a huge metal awning over them). Some days, I’d pay $5 to use such a space for a bit of shopping after taking the dog to the vet or some other city trip that involved the dogs.

    When I lived in a city, it didn’t matter so much to me. Now, since I live a fair distance from the city, I try to combine many errands into one trip (usually including taking the dogs someplace like the vet). It becomes impossible to do this when it’s hot because finding a shady parking space is darn near impossible. That’s the reason why I keep suggesting to anyone from our city gov who will listen that there should be parking spaces for dog-occupied cars!

    1. I agree, KB. I know all the shady spots at our usual stops, and I’ll even go out of my way to park inside a covered parking garage, if I have to. I suspect in your hometown, though, there would need to be more than a few shady parking spots since so many dogs are out and about all the time.

  4. Check out this 2005 study conducted by Stanford University Med School on how the temperatures rise inside a car, even on what seem like relatively mild days:

    I understand that people leave their dogs in the car when they just “pop in” for something at a store, but when you get talking to someone, or use the rest room, that five minutes you intended can easily turn into 20 or 30 min – in that time, the car temp can increase by 34 degrees, so even on a mild 70 degree day, this pushes it over 100.

    Full disclosure – I’m a veterinarian and have seen the unfortunate effects of hyperthermia on dogs left in cars. Of course, the owners never intend to do this, it’s just one of those things that can happen.

    Food for though, people.

    1. Thanks, JB, for that link. I suppose it’s all relative in terms of what people consider a “mild day.” Around here, 70 degrees is sweltering. :o) You are absolutely right, though, that the SUN is a big deal no matter the temp. Here in CO, where the sun shines more days each year than in Miami, it’s a major consideration.

  5. I saw that my temperature threshold is lower than many. I think anytime the temp goes above 50 you’re taking a chance that it could get much hotter in the car than you realize.

    Generally, Honey only comes along when one person is able to stay with her. We usually sit or walk around nearby while the other person is doing errands.

  6. We generally:
    – don’t like leaving dogs alone anywhere, even less so in the car; normally one of us stays with them
    – we try not to have them in a car on a hot day to start out with; we plan all trips around the weather as much as possible

  7. I have and do bring my dogs with me on errands sometimes if the weather permits. Recently driving back from Florida to NJ, 1200 miles, I passed on leaving my 3 dogs in locked car and took a pee with them (no it’s not the 1st time I’ve used outdoor plumbing) in a remote spot of 95 in Georgia. 2nd day I found a shaded spot, still coolish inside car from the AC, cracked windows, locked doors, and ran like hell to the ladies room and back at reststop. My 2 lab mixes and chihuahua survived and I’m thankful to have not been caught (picturing myself on Cops, bad girl whatcha gonna do) with my “pants down”. Pardon the pun.

  8. Traveling full-time means that we do some times leave the dogs alone in the RV. We’re fortunate to have the ability to block out all sun, open windows and the port hole in the roof, and run the fan for ventilation. I don’t leave them when it’s hot – counting on the air conditioning doesn’t seem like a good idea to me. Ours has never stopped running, but I just won’t take that chance with the boys.

  9. I always leave my dog in the car. Yes, yes, taboo and all of that, but realistically my dog goes *everywhere* with me.

    At the vet, I leave the dog in the car (climate control set to a comfortable temperature) with the doors locked a la remote control (the doors will not lock with the key in the engine unless you have the remote) and I go in to make sure no one else is in the lobby. I wouldn’t submit my dogs to the torture of having to wait in the waiting room, which is a disaster waiting to happen.

    And it would be a sad, sad day for anyone stupid enough to try to take our car. (First, they’d have to break in, and second….we adopt troubled dogs as a hobby. I can tell you honestly that they’d be bitten. Hence why the dog is left in the car and not just brought willy-nilly into the lobby. And, not only that, but being bitten by a dog of mine would be the least of whatever idiot brave enough to corner my pups worries. I would do far worse damage than my dog ever could.)

    I schedule all of my running with my dogs days out – to walk, hike, swim, play, socialize, etc. So, whenever I run errands, we do climate control and a quick be-by-yourself-and-live-with-it exercise. After having one dog with separation anxiety, we do a lot of work on supervised separation.

    Anytime I can, I have someone with me, but they still leave the car (and watch from a safe distance, noting what the dog did – relax, pace, bark at someone, etc).

    I don’t have the problem with it that most people do. I’m used to leaving my dog in the car (again, with climate control) and scoping out whatever area – even if it’s just the pet store – that I’m taking the dog to before I go in. I’m just not going to cry about taking the extra time to make sure the area I’m going into isn’t going to be a doggy-disaster because the dog is alone in the car, safe, and alone for a couple of minutes.

    I do it for trials, walks/hikes/swims, classes, vet offices, and any other place I take my dog.

    I also don’t believe in going places that the dog can’t go. We always sit outside of the coffee shop together, eat outside of restaurants together (with the approval of the manager/owner), and so on. If the dog isn’t welcome, I’m probably just not going.

  10. Living in Boulder, I don’t worry too much about my car getting stolen, but I never leave the windows open far enough that someone could grab my dog out of the car. My dog has no problem hanging out in the car; in fact, he prefers it to sitting under a table at a cafe, so we leave him in the car quite a bit, as long as the weather is safe. I always try to park where I can see the car.

    It’s funny, though. I had to go to Florida for a few weeks, and I was going to bring my dog. Then I started thinking about how many dogs get stolen out of cars, the car heat, different predators and parasites, etc., and I decided to leave him with my parents. I think pet car-safety definitely depends on where you live. (Sorry – no offense to Floridians, Boulder is just a super-safe community for the most part, and I was near Tampa, where the community was not so safe.)

    1. Also, Kyla … I believe that it’s actually illegal in Florida to leave a dog alone in a car. Someone on the K9Cuisine FB page mentioned that when it came up during the search for these stolen dogs.

  11. My answer was “never”. I just don’t want to risk ANYTHING when it comes to my dog, Annie. I’ve seen too many people (online as well as in real life) that have had their cars stolen in the blink of an eye. I can definitely understand that there are some circumstances that could arise when it would become a necessity, but only for a very brief time. There are certainly times, climates, etc that are safer, but generally speaking I just prefer to take the “be safe rather than sorry” route in regards to Annie.

  12. I voted never, though I must admit I’ve left my pets in the car twice… once for about 3 minutes (in the early spring before it was hot) to purchase water from a vending machine for a stressed out, panting kitty cat…and once to pick up a pet prescription. Was gone about 10 minutes the second time. Again, though, it was well before warm temperatures arrived.

  13. I end up with a dog along in the car quite often. In the weather we are having right now the dog is never alone, and I will actually try to just do without him or her.

    When it’s cooler I may leave a dog alone for a few minutes, often with the hatch and windows open.

  14. I don’t tend to leave my dog in the car alone much. And if I do, it’s for a short period of time (like 5-10 min). I leave the window open like halfway (just up enough that he can’t jump out). And I take care to park in a shady secluded place because he’s scared of people and noises; I’ve always worried about him being too scared or hot left alone in the car, but never really considered that someone would steal him.

  15. There are actually lots of times that I leave the dogs in the car. For example, at agility trials, I usually crate out of my car rather than set up a shade tent. Most trials I go to are on private property, and everyone knows most everyone else. I usually park in the shade, leave all the windows and the back open, and use shade panels and fans. I can generally keep my car much cooler than a shade tent. Often at agility trials some of us will go out to dinner, and you can’t leave dogs unattended in motel rooms. So, we will go someplace where we can sit by a window and keep an eye on our cars (and this is generally when the sun has set, so temps are not an issue.) In that case, I usually keep everything locked up and crack the windows.

    Another example is taking the dogs to the park to practice obedience. One dog gets worked while another is in the car. Again, I park in the shade and take whatever measures necessary to keep the car at an appropriate temperature, and I’m generally where I can see the car at all times.

    I don’t leave the dogs in the car to do grocery shopping or work out at the gym, or things like that, but as long as the temperature isn’t an issue, I wouldn’t condemn someone for doing that.

  16. I worry about this every time I see a dog locked in a car and will be interested to see the results of this survey. Generally, it is not a good idea, in my opinion, but I can understand someone doing it when in a hurry and running a quick errand.

Comments are closed.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}


Stay Tuned for Something New!

big things in the works ... promise

Success message!
Warning message!
Error message!