Dogs Die in Hot Cars: Take Action During The Summer

Motorists have been warned not to leave their canine companions in their cars, as we begin to approach summer temperatures. Every year, animal welfare groups respond to dozens of incidents in which pets suffer from heatstroke…

Whilst they may be man’s best friend, dogs often make for challenging road companions. Whether it’s the need to make regular stops or simply the distraction of an overly excited ball of fluff, they present us with their own challenges. But they’re particularly at risk during the summer, as temperatures begins to rise. When they do, it’s crucial that we keep our faithful friends safe and comfortable.

The Dangers

According to the Dog’s Trust, our pets should never be left alone in a car; even for a few minutes. Even on a moderately warm day, temperatures inside our vehicles can rise by some 11 degrees within just ten minutes. Many people don’t realise that dogs can’t regulate their temperatures as effectively as humans. They lose heat via their paws and panting, but this is insufficient whilst in a warm car. As a result, they’re at serious risk of heatstroke. This can be, and often is, fatal. Even if your pet simply becomes ill, you could face a formal charge of animal cruelty.

The Solutions 

If you can avoid travelling with your pet, it’s an obvious way of protecting them from the heat. If they need a walk, take them somewhere more local (that doesn’t require driving) or wait for temperatures to lower. Even if you park in shade, temperatures inside of your vehicle can rise dramatically. It’s exceptionally important that your dogs are properly hydrated, so make sure they have frequent access to cool water. If taking long journeys, when you expect to face congestion, use sunblinds to offer them shade. Be especially careful with puppies and older dogs, too, as they’re most at risk of getting sunburnt or experiencing heatstroke.

What To Do If You’re Worried About Someone’s Pet

Simple measures can help keep your dogs safe and comfortable when the sun shines. But what should you do if you come across a dog shut inside someone else’s car? First of all, you should absolutely ensure that the dog isn’t being neglected. Look around for the owner before taking action. If you’re unable to locate them, police advise that you call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999. They’ll want to know the condition of the dog, the car’s registration number and its location. A local warden should be quickly dispatched to attend to the dog. If they feel it’s necessary, they’ll call the police. However, if the animal’s condition appears to be critical, police advise that you contact them directly.

Dogs can die from heatstroke within twenty minutes which, ultimately, means the police and RSPCA might not be able to respond in time. In these rare instances, it’s down to your own judgement on whether to act. Under normal circumstances, it’s naturally an offence to damage a person’s vehicle. But in life or death circumstances, the law can protect you. Section 5(2)(a) of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 says that if “you believed that the person or persons whom you believe to be entitled to consent to the destruction of or damage to the property in question… would so consent to it if s/he… had known the destruction or damage and its circumstances.” In effect, that means you’re fine if the person would rather face a broken window than losing their pet.

Protect Yourself 

If you do decide to take direct action to help a dog trapped in a hot car, take photos of the vehicle before attempting to gain access. Also, ask locals to act as witnesses so they can vouch for your conduct.

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