Humane Society of Utah warns against leaving pets in hot cars

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SALT LAKE CITY - It doesn't take long for temperatures inside an idle car to turn deadly.

Less than three weeks after a dog was found dead from heat exposure in Sugar House, a volunteer from Human Society of Utah volunteered to sit inside a car for 30 minutes with temperatures surpassing 90 degrees outside.

"I feel a little disoriented," said Gene Baierschmidt with Humane Society of Utah, as he climbed out of his car. "Boy, I can't imagine what an animal with fur would be like in there."

Baierschmidt is quick to point out that dogs can't sweat like humans, so sitting in a car can reach fatal temperatures quicker. Temperatures with Baierschmidt inside went from 100 degrees to 128 degrees within 15 minutes, extending to 138 degrees in 30 minutes.

"Things can turn fatal in 10 to 20 minutes," said Deann Shepherd with Humane Society of Utah.

She's also quick to point out that cracking windows and parking in the shade only drops temperatures a couple degrees.

"That's the misconception," Shepherd said. "Really, there's not much of a difference."

Shepherd said those caught leaving pets or children in cars unattended could face misdemeanor charges ranging from 90 days in jail and a $750 fine to a third-degree felony charge with a $5,000 fine.

Legally, in the state of Utah, you're not allowed to break windows to help free other's kids or pets, but Shepherd said if things are dire, someone should think twice.

"All I can say is take action and do what you can to help that animal," she suggests. "I think everyone will feel better at night knowing they did what they could to help that animal."