As the blazing summer heat continues to beat down on Denver residents, it seems as though pet owners are finally learning that a hot car is no place to keep their furry friends, even for a short period of time.
According to Denver Animal Protection, the main animal control resource in the city, there have been about 233 calls regarding animals in hot cars so far this year, as opposed to the 300 calls the firm received by this time last year — 22% fewer.
Denver Animal Control Officer Jenna Humphreys cites awareness as the main cause of the decline.
“I think we’re getting a lot more people staying on scene which is good. A lot more paying attention to detail which is good,” Officer Humphreys told Next.
What also helps is the new Colorado law passed earlier this year, called the Good Samaritan law, which allows people who witness dogs or children left in hot vehicles to save the victims taking a number of different steps. According to The Denver Channel, it won’t take effect until August, but it’s a great way to further limit the number of incidents involving pets left in hot cars.
Under the Good Samaritan law, people must make an effort to find the owner of the vehicle. If no owner is in sight, they are then instructed to call the authorities and check to see whether the doors are unlocked. If they want to break a window, they must wait on scene for authorities to arrive.
This law seems as though it’s a good balance to the previous protocol, which was generally to break the window and free the subject. About 46,300,000 households own dogs, and while an average drunk driver has driven drunk 80 times before the first arrest, pet owners who leave their animals in hot cars are also likely to be repeat offenders before they are caught.
For those who witness incidents of children or pets being locked in hot cars, Humphreys recommends calling Denver’s 311 line as soon as possible. If you’re in another part of town, call 911 to be redirected. And in the meantime, check on the dog’s condition.
“If the dog’s up and barking, that’s not a sign of distress. It’s most likely a sign of anxiety,” she said.
And for pet owners who return to their vehicles to find their windows smashed, here’s a word of advice: if the damage is in the driver’s line of sight or the damage is greater than three inches wide, a replacement is in order. But more importantly, consider leaving your pet at home while you’re out, or if you can’t handle the inevitable responsibilities that come with being a pet owner, simply don’t be one.
Ultimately, Humphreys encourages anyone who sees these types of injustices to take advantage of the new law, but unfortunately, it won’t be enacted until August.
“We have to be smart about this…we have to make good choices,” she said.