Colorado’s New "Hot Car" Law

It’s only the beginning of June, but with temperatures already into the 90s, it looks like it’s going to be a very hot summer! With hot temperatures come heat dangers, one of the most significant being the danger of a hot parked car. On a hot day, temperatures inside parked cars can rise to lethal levels in just a matter of minutes, leading to heat stroke and suffocation. Pets are especially vulnerable, so it is never safe to leave a pet alone in a locked car on a hot day, even with the windows cracked.

In 2017, the Colorado General Assembly passed a new law, HB17-1179, which provides “immunity for a person who renders emergency assistance from a locked vehicle” – in other words, making it legal to break into a locked car to rescue a dog or cat, or an at-risk person. (At-risk persons are defined in Colorado law as persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities, or persons over 70 years of age). This law came about because of citizens’ concerns over the frequency of dogs left in hot cars while the owners were elsewhere. Colorado is now one of 28 states with laws regarding pets left in hot cars. Some counties and municipalities, including Denver, also have their own ordinances regarding protection of pets from the elements. If you are concerned about a pet (or person) locked in a hot car, contact your local law enforcement agency.

Summer heat provides a variety of other dangers to pets in addition to hot cars. Dehydration, sunburn, and hot pavement are also dangerous to pets. Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital offers tips on keeping your pet safe in summer months, including warning signs that your dog is suffering from heat stroke.