"Be right back!" is all it takes.

When temperatures reach summer highs in Reno, Washoe County Regional Animal Services and the SPCA of Northern Nevada ask that animals are not left locked inside hot cars, even for a few minutes. 

Studies show that on an 80 degree day, the inside of a vehicle can head to 99 degrees within ten minutes. On a 90 degree day, the inside of a vehicle can reach 109 in only ten minutes.

“Dogs don’t have the ability to cool their bodies the same way humans do,” said Jill Vacchina Dobbs, executive director at the SPCA of Northern Nevada. “A pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke or suffocation. We think it doesn’t happen in our dog-loving community, but it does.”

WCRAS receives an average of 600 calls for dogs or cats left in vehicles every summer.

“When it gets to the point where an animal’s well-being is threatened, animal services will take the necessary steps, as obligated by the law, to save an endangered animal by removing it from the vehicle. Even if they have to break a window to do it,” said Shyanne Shull, director at Washoe County Regional Animal Services.

During the hot summer months, remember:

  • When the temperature outside is 80 degrees, your car can heat to 99 degrees within 10 minutes.
  • When the temps outside are 90 degrees, your vehicle can heat to 109 in 10 minutes
  • Leaving a dog in the back of a truck can cause not only the dog to overheat but can burn the pads of his feet.
  • Limit exercise for your dog to early morning or late evening.
  • Before you put your pet in the vehicle, ask yourself if you really need to take your pet with you.
  • Provide shade from the heat and sun with plenty of fresh, cold water. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they do not restrict air flow. Having only a doghouse is not enough.
  • Some signs of heatstroke: heavy panting, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, dizziness (staggering gait), lack of coordination, deep red or purple tongue, seizure and unconsciousness.
  • Treat pets suffering from heatstroke: Move the pet to shade or air-conditioning immediately, apply cool towels to their belly, armpits and paws.  Let them drink cool water and take them to the veterinarian immediately.

What should I do if I see a pet unattended in a vehicle? Should I break the window?

No! It is illegal for citizens to break a window of a vehicle that does not belong to them in order to save a pet.  Instead, immediately call 775-322-3647 (775-322-DOGS). Do not call 911, as they will simply transfer you to this number. Just call directly to 775-322-3647 and Washoe County Regional Animal Services will dispatch an officer immediately.


1. Call WCRAS immediately at 775-322-3647 (775-322-DOGS). Do not report this online!

2. Get the vehicle’s license plate number, pet description and vehicle description.

3. If there is a business nearby, request an emergency announcement be made with the descriptive information.

4. Go back to the vehicle and wait for WCRAS to arrive.  Do not enter the vehicle OR confront the owner! 

Animal Control Officers will respond immediately to a report of a pet unattended in a parked vehicle. They can and will take the necessary action to retrieve an animal from a vehicle, including breaking a window, door lock or other measures to rescue the animal. The owner of the vehicle will be held responsible for the cost of repairs to the vehicle. The owner of the vehicle will also receive a fine of over $600 for breaking the law. 

Spread the word! Help us hang fliers! Download and print our Hot Cars Kill Prevention Poster here!

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