City of Ukiah, California

Police Department

Safety · Professionalism · Community Service

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Who’s that puppy dog in the car belong to?

Charles Shultz, the famous Peanuts cartoonist, once said, “Happiness is a warm puppy.” A warm, fuzzy, lick-your-face-forever kind of puppy.

Happiness is NOT Snoopy (or any dog) left in a hot car! Our dispatchers say that during these hot summer days, our 911 Call Center receives as many as five calls a day about very unhappy dogs being left in hot cars.

Leaving your dog in a car during the heat of summer can be more than just harmful–it can be deadly.

On a hot day, a car can quickly become much hotter than the outside temperature. In fact, on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature of your car can reach over 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes.

Even when it’s not that hot outside, leaving your dog in a car can be dangerous.

To determine how dangerous a car can be for a dog, Stanford University studied temperatures of car interiors as compared to the ambient temperature (outside temperature). This study found that cars act like large ovens–even when they’re in the shade. With an outside temperature of 72 degrees, a car’s internal temperature will rocket to 116 degrees in only one hour. And surprisingly, the study found that cracking your windows does little to slow the oven effect within a car.

The hotter it is outside (shade or not), the quicker a car’s internal temperatures can become devastating for a dog.

An animal in these high heat conditions can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes. Dogs have a harder time in the heat because they can only cool themselves by panting and sweating through their paws and nose.

Heatstroke symptoms for dogs include restlessness, excessive thirst, thick saliva, heavy painting, dark tongue, fever and vomiting. If a dog is experiencing these symptoms after being in a hot environment, it is important to get them into an air-conditioned vehicle or other cool place as soon as possible.

The website says if you find a dog in a car and you can find the car owner, let the owner know how the heat can impact their pet. If you find a dog in a car in a parking lot, call the police and let any adjunct stores know of the problem; stores will often make an announcement to help find the owner of a pet in distress.

If you plan to travel with your pet and you need to go in an establishment that doesn’t allow pets, consider having someone in your party stay outside with your pet. If you’re alone, shop in pet-friendly stores and use drive-through restaurants, if possible.

You can find more tips on traveling with a dog at This website also has great information about dogs in vehicles and a host of other topics, from veterinary care to food products.

To illustrate why I think these tips are so important, and why dogs don’t belong in hot cars, here’s a true story.

On June 10, a 50-year-old man was arrested for felony animal cruelty in Belmont, California, after witnesses reported a dog locked in a truck at a local motel. The dog, which had no access to water, died before it reached the vet, and the dog's owner was arrested.

The penal code is clear: anyone who "tortures, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance, drink, or shelter, cruelly beats, or cruelly kills any animal" can be charged with a felony. If convicted, the dog's owner could face up to three years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Please safeguard your pets, and remind others of the dangers of a hot car, so you can continue to experience the happiness Charles Schultz describes; love those warm puppies.

As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have any suggestions or comments about how we can improve, please feel free to call me, complete our online survey, or leave a crime tip on our website: 

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Safety · Professionalism · Community Service