Danai Gurira, celebrated for her roles in The Walking Dead and Black Panther, has once again stepped into the spotlight, but this time it’s not to fend off zombies or fight for the survival of Wakanda. Instead, she has taken on the role of a real-life hero—with her sidekick, Papi—to remind citizens of every universe never to leave dogs in hot cars, no matter the reason or season.
Hundreds of dogs die in parked cars every year because someone brought them along to run errands when they should have been left at home. Mild weather can be misleading—the temperature outside might be a lovely 78 degrees, but the temperature inside a parked car can soar to 100 degrees in minutes.
“I would never risk Papi’s life by leaving him alone in a car. He’s family. If he were in trouble, I would do anything to save him. My friends at PETA and I are urging everyone to be a warrior for animals. If you see a dog alone in a parked car, do whatever it takes to save them.” —Danai Gurira
Beating the heat is extra tough for dogs because they can cool themselves only by panting. Animals can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in just minutes. Signs of heatstroke include restlessness, heavy panting, excessive drooling, lethargy, a darkened tongue, a rapid heart rate, fever, vomiting, glazed eyes, and collapse.
As you walk in and out of a mall or grocery store, through any parking lot, or along the sidewalk, always keep an eye out for dogs who may have been left behind in a parked car, and if you do see something, act fast:
1. Gather information.
Note the car’s color, make, and model, and write down the license plate number or take a picture of it.
2. Notify others.
If there’s time, go into the nearest building and find a manager. Remember: It only takes minutes for a dog to sustain organ damage due to heat. Time is of the essence! Politely ask the manager to page the owner of the car. Be persistent!
3. Monitor the dog.
Go back outside and wait by the car. Don’t leave until the dog is safe.
4. Inform the owner.
When the owner appears, share some facts, including PETA literature (always carry some).
5. Call for help.
If you can’t find the vehicle’s owner or if authorities are unresponsive or too slow and the dog appears to be in imminent danger, find a witness (or several) who will back up your assessment and do whatever it takes to remove the suffering animal from the car. Get the dog into the shade as quickly as possible, douse them with tepid or cool (not cold) water, and call a veterinarian immediately.
Heroism Is Real
Danai is a force for change, reminding us that we have the power to be heroes every day. You can start by making sure that your family, friends, and neighbors know not to leave dogs in hot cars and what to do if they see one in this hazardous situation. If you love them, never leave them—no matter what—and be prepared to rescue those in danger: