After being given a ticket for leaving her dog in a locked car in the midday sun in Bethesda, former ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick reportedly yelled at a police officer: "I take better care of my animal than you do of your children" [The Reliable Source, June 30]. While we can't comment on this police officer's child-rearing skills, the American Humane Association differs with Ms. Kirkpatrick's assessment of her pet-caring skills.

On a hot day, even after 10 minutes, the inside of a closed car can reach 160 degrees. That's enough to cause heat stroke in a dog. Leaving a window open isn't much help. Pets do not perspire the same way humans do on a hot day. Dogs cool themselves by panting. But with only hot air to breathe, a dog can quickly suffer brain damage. If emergency care is not given, a dog stuck in a car could die.

Montgomery County's law against leaving pets in a parked car is not designed to annoy the shopper on a "quick trip." It's designed to protect animals from a painful and needless death. As Washington-area temperatures soar, we're certain pets would prefer some cool shade and fresh water to a sweltering potential death trap.


Director, Washington Office

American Humane Association