Here's Why Tesla's New "Dog Mode" Feature Is A Terrible Idea - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

Hundreds of animals die every year during the summer months from heat exhaustion from cruelly being locked in a vehicle, according to the American Veterinary Association. Upon seeing an animal in heat distress, people will call the police and even break into vehicles in an attempt to save the animal’s life. Tesla has come up with a proposed solution for drivers to let people know that their animal is OK inside a parked car with a feature the company is calling “Dog Mode.”

As per AutoWeek, “This feature uses automatic sensors to maintain a comfortable temperature for pets inside the vehicle when you have to run errands, such as inside a grocery store, while also displaying a message in giant letters to passers-by who might become concerned for pets left in the car. The message will tell anyone looking inside the car that the owner will return soon and display interior temperature. This feature can be activated via the climate control menu, simply by pressing a button labeled “Dog” within the Keep Climate On option.”

It’s a terrible idea. Here’s why.

Such a feature would encourage people to leave pets (and heaven forbid, children) unattended in vehicles for lengthy amounts of time. Especially in extreme weather conditions.

I love the fact that Tesla sensors will keep a car’s temperature cool, or warm enough to keep driver, passengers, and pets comfortable. What’s not so great is flashing a message that the dog is OK and the owner will be right back. Because we know technology is always flawless, right?

People need to be vigilant about animals and children left in cars. Pet owners need to have the common sense enough to leave their pets at home if they are going somewhere where pets are not allowed and when the weather is extreme. Period.

I do think tech is the answer to the continuing issue of animals and babies being left in hot vehicles. What I would love to see in addition to automatic climate-regulating sensors: notification sent to a vehicle’s owner and then the authorities when a car’s interior’s temperature  becomes dangerous and when a sentient being is detected inside that car.

Because if I see a dog in signs of heatstroke, I don’t give a whit about a message that says to the effect, “The dog is OK, everything is fine, don’t worry.” The tech that saves children and pets from heatstroke has to be more actionable, and I am sure it will come soon.

Without question, Tesla is trying to do the right thing with its new feature “Dog Mode” in its Model 3. But it has the potential to breed more irresponsibility in pet owners.


The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author’s and not necessarily the opinion of Black Enterprise.

Samara Lynn

Samara Lynn is a technology journalist, covering the industry for a decade. Her work appears in The Wirecutter, Tom's Hardware, PC Mag, and other online outlets. She's the author of "Windows Server 2012: Up and Running" and previously worked in the IT industry. She's currently the digital manager at Black Enterprise.



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