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Officials warn of risks in leaving kids, pets in hot cars

FORSYTH COUNTY -- Summer temperatures have already found their way to Forsyth County, and officials are urging residents to remain vigilant when it comes to children and pets in hot cars.

It may seem harmless to leave a child or an animal in the car for a few minutes while running into a store, but officials said a car without the air running that is sitting in 95-degree weather with the windows up for 20 minutes can reach 170 degrees on the dashboard.

“There’s no specific law that governs leaving a child or animal in a hot car,” said Deputy Epifanio Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.

Though there is no Georgia law that makes it illegal to leave children and animals in hot cars, doing so can result in being charged with cruelty to children or animals, Rodriguez said.

“In general, during the summer months we do get our share of calls like that,” he said.

Only 22 states have statues that either prohibit leaving animals in a confined vehicle or provide protecting against being sued for citizens who break into a vehicle to rescue an animal, according to the Animal Legal and Historical Center at Michigan State University.

“An animal gets overheated more quickly than an adult male or an adult female does,” Rodriguez said.

A human’s pulse also increases when left in a hot, confined vehicle, and they can get physically sick, eventually causing permanent injury or death.

“If [people] believe this person or this animal is in immediate danger of receiving injury or death, they have to make that decision on whether to break into the car,” Rodriguez said. “They should always call 911 if they see something like that.”