Leaving You Car Running in Pet Mode May Not Be Enough

You need to run errands but feel guilty leaving your dog home for another day alone. They’ve already been alone while you were at work this week. No problem, you think. I’ll just bring them with me! It’s a perfect plan until you realize you can’t bring your dog with you everywhere and you can’t just leave them in the car. Enter ‘pet mode’ or ‘dog mode’ on your vehicle. While the idea behind this car setting is a well-intentioned step toward preventing hot car death or heat stroke for your pet, you should use it with extreme caution.
Keep reading to learn why pet mode may not be the best feature to use.

How does dog mode work?

On certain vehicles, there is a temperature controlled setting that allows owners to exit the vehicle while the interior continues to cool. When activated, this mode keeps the cabin of the car cool with a handy ‘display’ that mentions the air conditioning is running and the owner will be right back. Supposedly, the feature is set up to alert the owner if the battery dips below 20 percent capacity by pinging their phone.

What are the concerns with leaving pets in vehicles?

While this feature is a novelty, it’s not fool proof and relies on several factors that could go wrong.
  • Technology failure: The tech behind these vehicles is typically considered to be cutting edge in the industry. They combine cool design concepts with innovative technology concepts to create a well marketed machine. Unfortunately, technology can go wrong. Systems can be hacked, they can crash, and they can glitch. While we’re very used to the minor inconvenience of resetting our phones or laptops should something happen, the consequences of the onboard system glitching are much more severe: pets suffering the brutal effects of heat stroke.
  • Battery life: Electric vehicles run off of batteries that require recharging on a regular basis. Gas vehicles work off of a fuel/battery combination that also requires regular refueling. Imagine you’re in your vehicle and the battery dies, you can’t escape. It’s 95 degrees outside and your windows are creating a greenhouse effect, warming the air inside the vehicle at a much faster pace. Now imagine your a kid or a dog that doesn’t know how to communicate you need help to someone passing by. Leaving a pet or loved one to fend for themselves in the event of a battery failure can lead to disastrous consequences.
  • Signal strength: Cell phone networks have improved greatly over the past 20 years, but that doesn’t mean they’re impervious to dead zones just yet. Certain stores are known for having bad reception inside, even with free WiFi access for guests. If your car sends you an alert that the battery is running low and you have no service to receive it, does it count?
While new technology is cool, it’s only as good as the people who programmed it and the operators. In addition to the technology concerns, there could be legal and monetary ramifications to leaving your pet unattended, even with dog mode on.

Can my car window be broken to rescue my pet?

Every state has it’s own laws governing whether someone can walk away without paying property damage if they broke a car window to save a pet or small child. In many cases, the emergency situation and life of the child and pet are weighed against the damages done to the vehicle and, unsurprisingly, the life that was in danger comes out on top.

If someone sees your pet alone in your vehicle and still calls for emergency help, you could be charged with endangerment or end up with broken windows and a damaged car. While a recent case dismissed any animal endangerment charges against the defendant, that case took place in the United Kingdom and is not necessarily a standard around the United States.

Leaving your pet on ‘dog mode’ in your vehicle is a pretty novel concept, even after two years in the market. However, that also depends on how well you trust the technology that went into the design. Would you trust yourself in the vehicle on dog mode while it’s more than 100 degrees outside? With so many things that could go wrong, I wouldn’t rely on dog mode to prevent heat related illnesses and hot car deaths.

Take a look at how BabySav is working to prevent vehicular heat stroke in both children and pets!

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