Pets and hot cars:
What may be legal may not be good for your pet
By Billy Huntsman
Las Cruces Bulletin
When it comes to leaving animals in cars, there are many gray areas regarding what is legal and what is illegal.
As a rule of thumb, pet owners should not only consider what situations are directly harmful to a pet— such as leaving a dog in an unventilated car in warm weather—but also what situations could conceivably lead to harm, such as leaving a dog in a car at night.
“It’s all about the safety of the animal,” said Dan Trujillo, public information officer with the Las Cruces Police Department. “This time of year, that would probably not be in the best interest of the pet.”
In Las Cruces and southern New Mexico, Trujillo said, where summer nighttime temperatures are often in the ’80s or ’90s, leaving an animal in a car could result “in some type of abuse.”
Leaving windows open, or cracking windows, does not work, Trujillo said, as air circulation might not be strong enough to cool the temperature in a car’s cabin.
Leaving the air conditioning on “is conceivably OK,” Trujillo said, with two caveats.
“One is: what if the vehicle turns off for some reason? Then, all of a sudden, the pet is left without air conditioning in an enclosed vehicle,” Trujillo said. “And two: the vehicle could be stolen.”
Another scenario some people have encountered is finding a pet locked in a hot car. Is it legal to break a window in order to free the pet?
“It’s a judgment call,” Trujillo said.
Trujillo said LCPD has only told 12 people to break windows in order to save pets. Trujillo said, while leaving a pet in a hot car is illegal, so is the breaking of someone’s window.
Trujillo said people should call 911 first if they find a pet locked in a hot car.
“Our central dispatch will dispatch police and/or fire to the location and we have a very good response time,” Trujillo said.
Trujillo also said putting an animal in the bed of a truck can result in harm to the animal as a result of the bed’s lining getting too hot.
Further non-emergency questions can be directed to Trujillo at 535-5639.