Washoe County Regional Animal Services and SPCA of Northern Nevada implore community to keep pets out of parked cars

by | May 4, 2023

Washoe County Regional Animal Services (WCRAS) and the SPCA of Northern Nevada (SPCA-NN) are issuing a community-wide plea, warning of the dangers of pets inside parked vehicles during warm weather. Animals should never be left unattended in a standing vehicle, but this is especially true when outside temperatures reach 60 degrees or warmer.  

“Dogs don’t have the ability to cool their bodies the same way humans do,” Jill Vacchina Dobbs, SPCA-NN executive director, said. “A pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke or suffocation within a matter of minutes. Leaving a pet in your vehicle with the intention of coming right back could prove deadly for the animal.” 

WCRAS reports they receive more than 600 calls each summer about pets inside parked vehicles during the warmer seasons, and especially during the hot summer months.  

Studies show that even on a 70-degree day, the inside of a vehicle can reach 120 degrees, even with the window cracked. On a 90-degree day, it can reach that same 120 degrees in just 10 minutes, which could prove deadly to an animal. 

“When it gets to the point where an animal’s well-being is threatened, Animal Services will take the necessary steps, as obligated by the law, to save an endangered animal by removing it from the vehicle, including breaking a car window if necessary,” Shyanne Shull, WCRAS director, said. “Our goal is to prevent this from happening by getting this important message out to the public now as the weather warms up.” 

Additionally, it is illegal to leave a pet unattended in a vehicle during hot weather (NRS 202.487), and individuals who violate this can receive a fine of over $600.  

If an individual sees an animal in distress inside a parked vehicle, they must call WCRAS Dispatch immediately at 775-322-3647 (775-322-DOGS). Once the reporting individual has made the call, they will be asked to provide a vehicle description and license plate number. After reporting the vehicle, the individual should alert nearby businesses (who could make an emergency announcement inside), and then stay by the vehicle until help arrives. 

Media requests and requests for interview can be made to Quinn Sweet, program coordinator with Washoe County Regional Animal Services (775-353-8917; qsweet@washoecounty.gov) and/or to Emily Lee, communications manager with SPCA of Northern Nevada (775-686-9033; emilylee@spcanevada.org). 


 About the SPCA of Northern Nevada 

Volunteer founded in 1998 to save at-risk homeless pets, SPCA of Northern Nevada connects people and homeless pets to bring joy, love, and compassion to our community and beyond. We offer quality adoptions, affordable spay/neuter, vaccinations and microchipping, and humane education programs. Our top priority is helping pets in need. We maintain high standards and follow best practices in managing our clinic and adoption center with highly-trained, caring staff and volunteers led by a passionate volunteer board of directors. We are an independent, local adoption center that does not receive funding from the government or the ASPCA (or any other SPCAs). 

About Washoe County Regional Animal Services (WCRAS) 

WCRAS focuses on animal welfare and public health, through sheltering, field services, regulation enforcement, and proactive outreach programs that support responsible pet guardianship and pet retention. We are the only lost and found pet shelter in Washoe County and an average of 13,000 animals come into our care each year. WCRAS dispatch and field services are provided to the community 365 days per year from 8:00 am -10:00 pm. Dog licensing, free microchipping, permitting, and other services are available 8:00 am – 5:00 pm Monday to Friday and 9:00 am-3:00 pm Saturday.