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Reminder of why you don’t leave pets or kids in a hot car

(AP, file photo)

With a significant heat wave descending upon the Northwest, it’s probably a good time to remind drivers to not leave their pets in their cars.

Why? Aside from potential pet death that will occur from the excessive heat inside a car, there’s a chance that the driver will have to buy a new window after police smash it.

“If the situation warrants, we absolutely have the authority to use whatever means possible to save the life of an animal, or human for that matter,” said Capt. Marcia Harnden with the Bellevue Police Department.

“It also probably goes without saying, but please don’t leave children in hot cars either,” she said.

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Capt. Harnden said that Bellevue officers have broken a couple windows due to hot weather, but it’s been a couple of years since. BPD policy is to find the car owner first and get them to remedy the problem before any such action is necessary.

“But if that is not possible, we will find a way to rescue an animal in distress,” Harnden said. “The pet owner can also be cited for endangering the animal.”

In 2015, Washington state’s animal cruelty laws were updated. Since then, police officers have been allowed to break a car window to save an animal trapped in a hot car. Officers are protected from any lawsuit that could arise from taking such action.

Kay Joubert with PAWS animal shelter told Seattle’s Morning News in 2015 that state law gives police the go ahead “anytime an animal is found in a space with excessive heat, excessive cold, lack of ventilation, or even lack of necessary water …”

It’s important to note that while state law protects officers when they take action, it does not protect citizens if they opt to break a window — that is still illegal. It is best to call 911 if you see a pet trapped in a hot car.

The Lynnwood Police Department is also reminding drivers that it has a “zero tolerance policy” when it comes to pets left in a hot vehicle. In a newsletter this week, Lynnwood PD notes that at 70 degrees, the interior of a vehicle can rise to 89 degrees within 10 minutes, and 104 degrees within 30 minutes.

The hotter it gets, the worse the interior gets. At 95 degrees outside, a vehicle’s interior will be 114 degrees in 10 minutes, and 129 degrees in 30 minutes.

In short, if it’s hot outside, it’s even hotter inside a vehicle. That poses a threat to pets’ — and humans’ — lives.

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