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Is it Illegal to Leave Pet Alone in the Car?

We know the dangers of people and animals being locked inside hot cars. But what about when you leave a pet in the car just for a quick run to pay the clerk or run to the potty? We love having our pets with us on trips, but we all need rest stops. And not all establishments are pet-friendly. Meaning at some point in time you will probably need to leave your dog in the car.

That’s when you may wonder if it is illegal to leave your junior in the car, even if only for a few minutes. While, it is not exactly the easiest question to answer, we do have a few answers for you. There are a few things that have to be taken into account.

The conditions matter:

A lot of laws take into account the weather conditions and whether or not the windows are open. In some states, there are specific laws that will lay out what is proper conditions for leaving a pet in a car for a short amount of time. Usually that means, it’s not extremely hot or cold, the windows are cracked, and the vehicle is parked in a safe spot.

Even in places without specific laws, animal cruelty laws can be invoked if a pet is clearly in distress due to the carelessness or neglect of an owner.

Your state and local laws matter:

Of course, each state has a different take on this subject. If you live in one of the following states then you may want to look at the laws to see exactly what makes for an unlawful situation. According to Animal Legal and Historical Center, the following states do have some type of law regarding animals left in motor vehicles.

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

Larger cities and municipalities, even in states not listed can have city laws pertaining to leaving a pet in a vehicle alone.

How to keep your pet safe in case you have no choice but to leave them in the car:

  • Find a shady spot
  • Use a sunshade on the windows and windshield
  • Fill up a spill-proof bowl with fresh cool water
  • Set an alarm on your phone for 10 minutes. Time can pass quickly, this way you’ll know exactly how long you’ve been away from your pet.

Both responsible pet owners and lawmakers only want what is best for the animals. If you know you’ll be traveling often with your pet, research some of the laws. Also, brush up on safety tips such as carriers and how to safely travel with a pet (it is NOT safe for them to be loose in the car). Once you’ve done a little research your trip with your pet is sure to be a blast!

And if your pet can’t come along on your current adventure, we’d be more than happy to keep them company while you away so feel free to contact us. We’d be happy to be poked, come play, walk and help take care for them while you’re away from home.