Is It Illegal to Leave Your Dog in the Car in AZ? Yes—Here’s Why.

While you run inside the store, there’s no harm in leaving your dog or child in the car for a few minutes, right? In reality, those few minutes are all it takes to put your pet’s or child’s life at risk. 

Here are just some of the facts illustrating how deadly hot cars can be:

Learn more about why Arizona prohibits leaving pets confined and unattended in a motor vehicle, and what you should do if you see it happening. 

Why are hot cars so dangerous to animals?

On a hot day, your car experiences a greenhouse-like effect and essentially turns into an oven. Even when the car’s temperature starts at a comfortable 75 degrees, it can reach over 100 degrees in just 30 minutes. Temperatures can reach 140 degrees in just an hour on a 90-degree day. 

As temperatures rise, pets left in hot cars can quickly succumb to heatstroke, especially if they’re old, young, or living with any health problems. Under normal circumstances, dogs and cats have methods for cooling themselves down, but when the air around them is too hot, they can’t effectively regulate their body temperature. 

If an animal does manage to survive heatstroke, they could be left with lasting health conditions, like brain and kidney damage.

What are the consequences under Arizona law?

In addition to injuring their pet, or worse, people who leave animals in hot cars could face consequences with the law. In Arizona, if injury or death could result from leaving an animal unattended and confined in a motor vehicle, the owner could be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor, spend up to six months in jail, and have to pay a $2,500 fine.  

What can bystanders do when they see an animal or child alone in a car? 

To prevent pets and children from dying in hot cars, Arizona passed law HB 2494 in 2017. The law allows good Samaritans to rescue animals or children from the car without liability for damages if the following conditions are met:

  1. The rescuer has a good faith belief that unless the confined child or pet is removed from the vehicle, they are in imminent danger of suffering physical injury or death.
  2. The rescuer determines the car is locked or there is no reasonable manner in which the person can remove the child or pet.
  3. Before entering the vehicle, the rescuer notifies the proper authorities (law enforcement). 
  4. The rescuer does not use more force than is necessary under the circumstances to enter the vehicle.
  5. The rescuer remains with the child or pet until the authorities arrive.

What does this mean for bystanders, exactly? When you see an animal or child unattended in a hot car, call 911 before doing anything else. Then, if you feel they are in immediate danger, enter the car by whatever means necessary and bring the pet or child to a cooler area until law enforcement officers arrive. The whole time, make sure you’re following the 911 dispatcher’s instructions.

Get the other life-saving driving tips you need to know at Stop and Go Driving School. Connect with us today to find the driving course that’s right for you.