What to Do If You See a Pet in a Parked Car on a Hot Day in Grand Traverse County?

photo credit: pets4homes.co.uk

photo credit: pets4homes.co.uk

Pets can suffer and die when left inside a parked car even on a mildly warm day. On a 70 degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can still reach 100 degrees in just 20 minutes. Animals left in a vehicle even with the windows cracked open can succumb to heatstroke in 15 minutes. Dogs and cats cool themselves by panting and by releasing heat through their paws. The air and upholstery in your vehicle can heat up to high temperatures that make it impossible for pets to cool themselves.

Lieutenant Barsheff of the Grand Traverse Sheriff’s Office recently discussed this issue in the latest Garfield Charter Township newsletter. He said, “The average trip inside a store to grab a few things – about 15 to 20 minutes or so – can leave your pets vulnerable to the intense heat inside your parked car. According to weather experts, the temperature inside your car can rise almost 30 degrees while you are inside shopping. A parked car can quickly turn into an oven, in the sun or the shade.”

NEVER leave a dog inside of a parked car on a warm summer day. Lieutenant Barsheff continues, “during warm weather months, GT County Deputies handle numerous complaints of dogs left alone in parked vehicles. It is a violation of Michigan law if you fail to provide adequate care for your pet b leaving them in an excessively warm vehicle. A person who violates the law can be charged with a misdemeanor, which is punishable with imprisonment for not more than 93 days, a fine or not more than $1000.00 and community service for not more than 200 hours. Please think twice before bringing your pet with you on errands around town and exercise good judgment.”


1. Take down the car’s make, model and license-plate number.

2. If there are businesses nearby, notify their managers or security guards and ask them to make an announcement to find the car’s owner.

3. If the owner can’t be found, call the Grand Traverse non-emergency number at 231-922-4550. Program this number in your cell phone NOW under “dog in hot car.”


Exaggerated panting or sudden stopping of panting; rapid or erratic pulse; salivation; weakness; muscle tremors; tongue and lips red which may turn blue; convulsions or vomiting; collapse; coma


1. Move animal to cool, shady place. Gradually lower his/her body temperature by applying cool (not cold) water all over his body or soaking him in a cool bath (do not use ice). Place cool, wet towels over the back of the neck, in the armpits and in the groin area. Also wet the ear flaps and paws with cool water.

2. Direct a fan on the wet areas to speed evaporative cooling.

3. Allow animal to drink some cool water (or lick ice if no water is available). Do not force pet to drink.

If needed, dog can be taken to the Bay Area Pet Hospital (Emergency Vet Service) at 844 E. Front Street in Traverse City. Their phone number is 231-922-0911.


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One thought on “What to Do If You See a Pet in a Parked Car on a Hot Day in Grand Traverse County?

  1. Betty M. Waldo July 7, 2015 at 10:52 pm Reply

    I don’t always go inside stores these days to shop, so wait in the car when I go places…BUT…the driver leaves the motor running and the air conditioning turned on…with a “crack’ in windows…dog owners should do that….or…leave their dogs at home!

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