Actress Danai Gurira is reminding pet owners not to leave their dogs in hot cars

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), hundreds of pets die in the United States each year from heat exhaustion after being left in parked cars, but actress and pet lover Danai Gurira hoping for those statistics to change. 

The “Black Panther” star and proud owner of a rescue dog named Papi is channeling her love for her own pooch into a new campaign for PETA to remind dog owners not to leave their animals behind in parked cars.

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Danai Gurira attends the AMC Networks’ 2023 Upfront at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 18, 2023, in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

“I would never risk Papi’s life by leaving him alone in a car,” the actress told People. “He’s family. If he were in trouble, I would do anything to save him.”

For the campaign, the actress draws on the emotional intensity of Michonne, the beloved character she played in “The Walking Dead,” and posed in an orange dress with a baseball bat in hand next to a car with a smashed window.

 “If you love them, don’t leave them. Hot cars are fatal for dogs,” the campaign reads.  

Gurira told People she and PETA 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,” she said. 

If you do encounter a dog in a parked car, the Humane Society of the United States recommends taking down the car’s make, model, and license plate number and reporting the vehicle to any nearby businesses or security officers. If you still can’t locate the owner, the organization suggests calling either the non-emergency number for the local police or animal control and waiting with the vehicle until the authorities arrive. 

However, as Gurira’s ad suggests, there are many local good samaritan and animal cruelty laws that allow passersby to do whatever it takes, including smashing windows, to remove the animal from the dangerous situation. Before you reach for your baseball bat, look up the laws in your area. 

Temperatures are dropping in some regions, but there’s still plenty of cause for concern. The AVMA warns that the temperature inside a parked car can rise by 20 degrees Fahrenheit in 10 minutes and almost 30 degrees Fahrenheit in 20 minutes. 

“At one hour, your vehicle’s inside temperature can be more than 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature. Even on a 70-degree day, that’s 110 degrees inside your vehicle,” said AVMA officials. 

Despite an increase in information, there are still record-high amounts of heat-related pet deaths occurring. In August, just a month before the campaign launched, PETA reported that so far this year, there have been at least 149 hot weather-related deaths of dogs and cats. According to the organization, that figure surpasses last year or any other year on record. The organization also notes that these are just the heat-related pet deaths that are reported. 

This campaign isn’t the first time Gurira has channeled Michonne in real life when it comes to protecting dogs. The actress shared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” that while she’s much more upbeat and silly than Michonne would ever be, she feels like the character whenever she’s on walks with Papi while wielding a practice sword as a weapon against coyotes.

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