PETA warning pet owners the dangers of leaving animals in hot cars

Virginia News

Following recent reports that two cats died and 12 others along with a dog had to be rescued after being left in a hot truck in York County, PETA is issuing an urgent warning about the importance of never leaving animals outdoors in extreme heat or in hot vehicles. (File photos)

YORK COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is reminding Virginians about the dangers of unattended animals in hot cars after police charged a York County woman with leaving more than a dozen animals inside a U-Haul with temperatures in the 90s.

The woman, 48-year-old Wendy Lynn Diehl, was charged with 14 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty, two counts of felony animal cruelty and 15 counts of misdemeanor fail to provide for an animal.

York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office deputies say they discovered the U-Haul in the parking lot of an area Walmart. Deputies were able to open the truck, but unfortunately, one cat had died. The cats were in crates throughout the vehicle, with some roaming free, covered in feces and urine. There was also no food or water in the van, deputies added.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Woman kept 14 cats, dog in hot U-Haul van in York County Walmart parking lot, deputies say

PETA reports that 10 animals gave already died this year as a result of heat-related issues – a cause of concern for the animal rights organization.

“On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to 100 degrees in just minutes, and on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can reach as high as 109 degrees in less than 10 minutes,” a spokesperson from PETA shared in a release. “Cats and dogs—who can’t cool themselves by sweating—can rapidly succumb to heatstroke, even if a vehicle is parked in the shade with the windows slightly open, which has little to no effect on lowering the temperature inside.”

The organization released the following tips that aim to protect animals in hot weather:

The following tips will help keep animal companions safe in hot weather:

  • Keep animals indoors, and leave them at home when it’s hot outside. Unlike humans, dogs can sweat only through their footpads and cool themselves by panting, so even brief sun exposure can have life-threatening consequences. Anyone who sees animals in distress and is unable to help should note their locations and alert authorities immediately.
  • Never leave an animal inside a hot vehicle. Temperatures can quickly soar in parked cars, and an animal trapped inside can die from heatstroke within minutes—even if the car is in the shade with the windows slightly open, which has little to no effect on lowering the temperature inside the car. PETA offers an emergency window-breaking hammer for help with intervening in life-or-death situations.
  • Avoid hot pavement. When outdoor temperatures reach the 80s, asphalt temperatures can climb to 140 degrees, causing pain, burns, and permanent damage to dogs’ paws after just a few minutes of contact. Walk dogs on grass whenever possible, and avoid walking in the middle of the day. Never run with dogs in hot weather—they’ll collapse before giving up, at which point, it may be too late to save them.

For more information, visit


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