In Washington State the answer is No.
A new Washington law went into effect July 24, 2015 that allows animal control and law enforcement officers to break into vehicles to rescue pets – but it does not cover good Samaritans.
The law limits or eliminates liability for vehicle damage that animal control or law enforcement cause when rescuing a pet from a car due to extreme heat, extreme cold, lack of ventilation or lack of water. In addition, the pet owner can face a $125 fine. The person who confined the animal in the vehicle or enclose space may also be charged with animal cruelty under RCW 16.52.205 or 16.52.207.
Now we know many of you are saying to yourself, “I don’t care what the law states, I would just break the window and save the pet.” If you make that decision and you break into a car to save a pet, you could face legal or financial penalties for the damage to the vehicle. If you take the animal without the owner’s permission, you could be charged with theft. And keep in mind that you don’t know the animal, which may not react well to you breaking the window, and you could be injured.
What Should You Do?
Call 911! If you see a pet shut up in a car on a hot day in distress, call 911 and explain the urgency. While you are waiting for the animal control or law enforcement officer to arrive, take pictures of the car, the license plate and the pet in distress in the car to provide to the officer. If you don’t have a camera phone, take down the vehicle’s model, make, color, and license plate number. These can be used to report the owner for neglect or irresponsible behavior, and also to identify who the owner is.
Have the Owner Paged. Go into the local businesses or buildings nearby and notify a manager or security guard. Ask that they make an announcement over the intercom with the license plate number.
If the pet owner returns to the vehicle while you are waiting, avoid an altercation. We all want to reprimand the pet owner, but its not worth an injury or even worse, just to feel good about telling someone what a horrible pet owner they are. If the owner leaves before animal control or law enforcement arrive, you have the pictures and you should make a statement.
Monitor the Animal. According to PetMD, signs of heatstroke include restlessness, excessive thirst, heavy panting, dark tongue, rapid heartbeat, fever, vomiting, and lack of coordination. Keep a close eye on the dog for these symptoms, as it could mean that the situation needs to be acted upon very quickly.
What Else Can I Do?
We think this is a good idea. Life-Meter for Pets launched a campaign in Arizona featuring their product – a thermometer that attaches inside a car window. Their goal was to illustrate how fast a car heats up even on a mild day.
“When you display the thermometer, you are sending a message to anyone who may walk by your vehicle in a parking lot that it is never ok to leave pets alone in hot cars,” says Adam Schultz, lead designer of the product. “You are also showing your concern and spreading awareness of these dangers every day.”
Ever since I was a little kid, I have loved taking photographs of the animals in my life. I remember, after receiving my first camera at the age of nine, handing over rolls of film full of images of my pets for my parents to have developed. My family couldn't understand my obsession with photographing all of the animals in my life. They thought I was a little weird. It wasn't until one of our pets passed away that they understood what I was doing.
The photos you take of your pets today will be a gift to yourself and your loved ones when you need it most. This is why I became a professional pet photographer; to help people tell their pet's stories through beautiful photographs.
Although hiring a professional photographer to capture portraits of your beloved pets is a wonderful experience, it isn't something everyone can do, nor is it something that can be done every moment of every day. What you CAN do, is learn to take better photos of your pets using the tools you have so that you always have something to remember them by. I have put together a few tips that I believe can change the way you capture your own pets' stories in your everyday life.
Tip #1 Find the best light.
While not always possible in every situation, finding the best light is the key to a great image. The best light in your home will likely be near a window. Window light is wonderful. It is your best friend. Although I am a professional pet photographer with professional equipment, some of my favorite photos of my dogs are from when I found them lying around in beautiful light. All I had in the moment was my phone, but they say the best camera is the one you have on you.
Tip #2 Be mindful of what is included in your photograph.
The space around your subject is just as important as your subject itself. If you can help it, there should be purpose in what you include in your photograph. You could take the most brilliant photo of your dog in the backyard, but no one would be able to look passed that crumpled and torn blue tarp with a pile of orange bricks in the background. The best thing is to move the distraction before taking the photo, or find a different perspective to shoot from.
Tip #3 Change your perspective.
Have you ever sat down at your pet's eye level? The world looks different from there, doesn't it? I love lying in the backyard grass capturing portraits of my dog as she snoozes or lifts her nose to smell the Spring air. I've often just joined my dogs on the floor in the living room to capture photos of them being lazy. In all of these scenarios, I can think of multiple perspectives to capture portraits from. When your pets are sleeping or just lazing about, they make great subjects to practice capturing from different perspectives.
Tip #4 Don't forget the details!
One of my favorite parts about the work I do is learning the little things my clients love about their pets. Such as, the way their cat's whiskers turn in crazy directions, or the heart-shaped patch of white fur on their dog's back or a special trick their pet knows. These details are such wonderful things to capture in images. You know your pet the best, so don't forget to grab some photos of those little things you cherish the most about them.
Tip #5 Print, print, PRINT!
Having access to cameras on our cellphones has made it so easy to take more photos than we really need. So many, in fact, that we forget about them. They sit in our camera roll, or someplace on the desktop of our computer or in the cloud. How would it feel if you could grab a book off of the shelf that was filled with your favorite portraits of your pet? Or if when you woke up each morning, you were welcomed by a framed portrait? There are so many wonderful ways to enjoy your photos, and I hope you take the opportunity to have them printed. You won't regret it!
Marika Moffitt is the owner of Dirtie Dog Photography, a Seattle-based pet photography business that specializes in capturing the story of animals for the people who love them. Marika also serves on the board of Pawsitive Alliance, and is a lead contributing photographer for #WhyNotMEPets. You can learn more about the work she does by visiting www.dirtiedogphotography.com .
As people, we are pulled in so many directions: work, school, family, spouses, pets, the list goes on. Some may wonder how anyone has time to do anything, let alone volunteer. But volunteering has some surprising benefits, both for you volunteer, and the organization you donate your time to.
I've been a volunteer writer with Pawsitive Alliance for over 3 years now. Even though I write for a living, there's always times I feel down on my work or like I'm not doing enough. Enter: volunteer writing. Writing social posts and Petfinder descriptions for homeless pets not only make me feel like I'm doing something good for pets, but it increases my skills and confidence in what I'm doing. It's a win-win for all.
Meeting new people
Volunteer opportunities are a great way to meet new people with similar interests. Ask yourself: how else can you meet people who share the same passions you do? It's been wonderful meeting the Pawisitve Alliance team and seeing how all of our strengths together are helping homeless animals find homes.
The feel-good effect
When you do good for others, studies show you actually feel better about yourself, your life, and the daily situations you face. Donating your time or your skillset--even if it's a little bit of time--can really make you feel better and happier, which in turn benefits not only the organization you're helping, but your overall mental health.
Learning new skills
Not sure you'd be good at writing? Want to try out customer service? Volunteering is a great way to learn new skills with no pressure. While I chose to donate my writing skills (skills I already have), there's nothing stopping me from trying and learning different facets and skills. Plus, there's always someone around who wants to help--so you can keep helping the organization be successful!
Want to try volunteering? Here's how you can get the most out of it.
Pick an organization you feel passionately about
As a pet lover, it was a no-brainer for me to volunteer my time to help pets find homes. If you love what the organization does and stands for, you'll have no qualms about donating your time and skills.
You'll want to make sure you know what volunteer expectations are, and if you have the extra time needed to make a strong commitment. Over time, you may be able to adjust your commitment—if you build trust from the beginning.
Make sure you pick a task you'll enjoy doing. Because I'm a writer by day and love creating and writing content, I utilized my passions to create the perfect volunteer opportunity. Because I'm happy, the organization benefits, too.
Did you know that one in three pets will get lost in their lifetime? Even the most careful pet parents know how quickly a pet can become lost: someone accidentally leaves a door open, a dog get spooked by fireworks, a cat jumps out an open window, the list goes on. The pets that aren’t reunited often wind up at local shelters as strays. It’s estimated that in Washington state, 50% of the animals that enter into the shelter system are strays.
In Yakima County, thousands of pets every year have to be rehomed while their owners are searching for them, not realizing they could be in local shelters or rescues. We know this could be corrected with the proper ID. To help with this, we have formed a coalition of animal welfare organizations in Yakima County called Project Mission Pawsible. To date, the coalition's efforts include providing free tags and collars to thousands of dogs in the community, with every adopted animal now leaving the shelter with a collar, ID tag, and microchip.
This is just the beginning. We are working to increase spay and neuter services in central Washington, making improvements to the lost and found system, and having the right tools available if someone loses their pet so they can be reunited with them quickly.
For more information on what to do if your pet is lost or if you find a pet in Yakima County, visit their lost and found page here. For general information about lost and founds pets, visit the Missing Pet Partnership.
Alleviating Concerns. (n.d.).http://microchip.homeagain.com/alleviating-concerns.html
History of World Spay Day
Doris Day, a famous actress and avid animal welfare supporter, founded Doris Day Animal League in 1987 primarily to focus on legislation. Spay Day USA started in 1995 with an effort to “shine a spotlight on the power of affordable, accessible spay/neuter to save the lives of companion animals, community (feral and stray) cats, and street dogs who might otherwise be put down in shelters or killed on the street” (“World Spay Day”). In 2006, Doris Day Animal League merged with the Humane Society of the United States and Spay Day USA was reborn as World Spay Day. In its 24 years, World Spay Day/ Spay Day USA has expanded to 70 countries worldwide.
How does only one unspayed cat or dog make an impact?
Just one cat can have as many as 100 kittens in their lifetime. Expanding that to its offspring, in only seven years, this one cat has populated hundreds of thousands of kittens through its offspring (“Fun Facts”). Depending on the dog’s litter size, one dog could produce 20-40,000 pups through their offspring.
What can we do?
What if I want to help but can’t do something in time for this year’s World Spay Day?
Spaying and neutering matters 365 days a year. It is one of the most impactful ways to reduce unwanted litters and the demand of more animals on community resources over time. For more ways to support throughout the year, contact us HERE.
Humane Society of the United States. “World Spay Day.” The Humane Society of the United States, www.humanesociety.org/issues/spay_day/.
Doris Day Animal League. “Primary Menu.” Doris Day Animal League, www.ddal.org/.Fayette Humane Society. “Fun Facts.” Fayette Humane Society, www.fayettehumane.org/fun-facts/.
We have many guest authors from volunteers, partner organizations, staff, and even donors. Thank you for your continued support of Pawsitive Alliance and making all of this possible.