Should I break the window? Police address what to do for animals locked in hot cars

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CEDAR CITY — The Cedar City Police Department released a statement Wednesday regarding a circulating Facebook post that admonishes citizens to break car windows if they see an animal locked in a hot car.

“This post originated in England and is not the policy of any local law enforcement,” the statement said. “We do NOT advocate breaking someone else’s car windows.”

Any citizen who sees an animal locked in a car and feels the animal is in danger is asked to call their local police dispatch, according to the statement, and have an animal control officer or police officer respond and assess the situation.

“We remind everyone during hot weather, it is extremely dangerous to leave animals in your car for any length of time,” the statement said.

The Human Society of the United States reminds pet owners that leaving pets locked in a car during warm weather can be deadly, and high temperatures can cause irreparable organ damage or death.

Tips from the Humane Society on what to do if you see a pet left in a hot car:

  • Take down the car’s make, model and license plate number
  • If there are businesses nearby, notify their managers or security guards and ask them to make an announcement to find the car’s owner
  • If the owner can’t be found, call the nonemergency number of the local police or animal control and wait by the car for them to arrive

On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a car can reach between 100 and 120 degrees in just minutes, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals; on a 90-degree day, a car’s interior temperature can reach as high as 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes.

Animals can suffer brain damage and even die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes, according to PETA. Dogs are particularly vulnerable to heat, as they can only cool themselves by panting and sweating through their paw pads.

Signs of heatstroke in animals:

  • Restlessness
  • Excessive thirst
  • Thick saliva
  • Heavy panting
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Dark tongue
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Lack of coordination

What to do:

  • Get the animal out of the heat immediately, preferably into an air-conditioned vehicle
  • Get the animal to a veterinarian right away
  • If you can’t transport the animal to a vet, get it into an air-conditioned space and call animal control; tell them it is an emergency
  • Provide water for the animal to drink
  • If possible, spray the animal with a garden hose or immerse it in a tub of cool (but not iced) water for up to two minutes to gradually lower the body temperature; you can also place the animal in front of an electric fan
  • Applying cool, wet towels to the groin area, stomach, chest and paws can help lower body temperature
  • NOTE: Be careful not to use ice or cold water, and don’t over-cool the animal


  • Nonemergency dispatch phone numbers:
    • Cedar City: 435-586-9445
    • Hurricane City Police: 435-627-4999
    • Iron County: 435-867-7550
    • Kane County: 435-644-2349
    • St. George Police: 435-627-4300
    • Washington County: 435-634-5730

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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  • beentheredonethat July 15, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    SIMPLE guidelines. If it’s a pitbull or a rotwieller, YES break the window. Asp, O.C. tazer and shoot it with your Glock. Then start the car on fire. If its a German Shepherd…….call for the jaws of life and go to it. for all other animals……the window is PROBABLY open a bit……USE A COATHANGER!!!!!!!!!

  • Mr. W July 15, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    I don’t make a habit of leaving animals in a hot car but if someone broke out my window I would return the favor on their face.

    • Real Life July 16, 2015 at 12:55 am

      Mr. W? Internet tough guy? Whatever wuss wonder weenie. I would break your WINDOW and your family WOULD WATCH you get an a.. WHOOPING.

  • Harold S. July 15, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    I believe a person is obligated to break out the window of a vehicle if the owner was careless enough to leave an animal or a child inside. Utah criminal mischief law states that a person must have the criminal intent to cause property damage of another. The intent is not to cause criminal damage, but to save a life. Lives will always come before property as it should. I would not hesitate to break a window in a vehicle if it were necessary to save a life, animal or human!!!

    • sagemoon July 16, 2015 at 8:46 am

      I agree and I think your reasoning makes a valid defense.

  • fun bag July 15, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    “On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a car can reach between 100 and 120 degrees in just minutes, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals; on a 90-degree day, a car’s interior temperature can reach as high as 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes.”

    Seems waaay exaggerated. i’ll believe it when i see it…

    • ladybugavenger July 16, 2015 at 6:59 pm

      The inside of my car must be over 200 degrees on a 110° day in St George, …..which I think is actually Arizona…..its so frickn hot here

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