Is It Illegal To Leave Your Dog in The Car in Ohio? Here’s What Law Says

Our furry companions are like family, and leaving them behind when we run errands can be a tough call. But sometimes, a quick trip to the store seems harmless. However, temperatures inside a parked car can rise rapidly, even on seemingly mild days, putting your dog at risk of heatstroke and even death.

This begs the question: is it illegal to leave your dog in a hot car in Ohio? While there isn’t a specific law against it, Ohio does have animal cruelty statutes that can be applied in these situations. This article will delve into the legal aspects of leaving your dog in a car in Ohio, explore the dangers of doing so, and provide alternative solutions for keeping your pup safe when you need to leave them behind.

Ohio’s Animal Cruelty Laws

  • Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Section 959.131 defines cruelty to animals as subjecting any companion animal to unnecessary suffering or pain. This includes depriving an animal of food, water, or shelter, or transporting them in a cruel or inhumane manner.
  • While there’s no law explicitly mentioning parked cars, leaving your dog in a hot car can be considered animal cruelty under ORC 959.131 if the conditions endanger the animal’s health or life.

The Dangers of Leaving Your Dog in a Hot Car

  • Even on a seemingly pleasant day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar rapidly, reaching dangerous levels within minutes. Cars act like greenhouses, trapping heat and causing internal temperatures to rise much faster than the outside air.
  • Dogs are especially susceptible to overheating because they can’t sweat effectively. Panting is their main way to cool down, but it becomes insufficient in extreme heat.
  • Heatstroke is a serious and potentially fatal condition that can occur when a dog’s body temperature becomes too high. Symptoms include excessive panting, drooling, glazed eyes, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, seizures, and even coma.

Real-Life Examples from Ohio Cities

  • Cleveland: In 2019, a Cleveland man was charged with animal cruelty after his dog died from heatstroke after being left in a car for several hours.
  • Columbus: Similarly, a Columbus woman faced animal cruelty charges in 2018 when her dog succumbed to heatstroke after being left in a parked car on a hot day. These incidents highlight the real dangers of leaving pets unattended in vehicles.

Alternatives to Leaving Your Dog in a Car

  • Plan Ahead: If you must leave the house, plan errands that allow you to take your dog with you. Many pet-friendly stores welcome well-behaved canine companions.
  • Arrange Pet Care: Consider leaving your dog with a trusted friend, family member, or pet sitter while you’re away. Daycare facilities are another option for social and active pups.
  • Leave Them Home – With Precautions: If staying home isn’t an option, ensure your dog has access to plenty of fresh, cool water and a comfortable, air-conditioned space to stay in. Leaving on fans for additional circulation can also help.
  • Never leave your dog in a parked car, even for a short period, especially on a hot day or with the windows cracked.

Taking Action if You See a Dog in a Hot Car

  • Assess the Situation: If you see a dog in a parked car on a hot day and the animal appears to be in distress (excessive panting, lethargy, vomiting), take immediate action.
  • Try to Locate the Owner: Look for the owner’s contact information on the vehicle registration or try calling the number on a parking permit.
  • Contact Authorities: If the owner cannot be found and the dog’s health appears to be at risk, call animal control or the police. Most states, including Ohio, have laws that grant immunity to civilians who remove animals from hot cars in good faith to prevent cruelty.


While there’s no specific law against leaving your dog in a hot car in Ohio, animal cruelty statutes can be applied if the situation endangers the animal’s well-being. The dangers of heatstroke are undeniable, and even a short period in a hot car can be fatal for your furry friend.

Always prioritize your dog’s safety. Plan ahead, utilize alternative care options, and never leave your dog unattended in a parked car, especially on a hot day. By being a responsible pet owner, you can ensure your canine companion stays cool, safe, and happy.

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MBS Staff
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