What to do if you see a dog in a hot car

Written by on 12th July 2019

The RSPCA have issued guidance about what to do if you see a dog in a hot car.

  • Check the animal – is he/she relaxed or distressed?
  • If the dog seems fairly content and isn’t in immediate danger then try to establish how long they have been unattended in the vehicle and note down the registration. If near a store, ask a member of staff to make a tannoy announcement to trace the owner but ask someone to stay with the dog and monitor them.
  • If the dog is in distress or displaying any sign of heatstroke – such as panting heavily, drooling excessively, is lethargic or uncoordinated, or collapsed and vomiting – call 999 immediately and request police.
  • If the situation becomes critical and police can’t attend, many people’s instinct is to break into the car to free the dog. Please be aware that, without proper justification, this could be classed as criminal damage.
  • Make sure you tell the police of your intentions and take photos or footage of the dog as well as names and numbers of witnesses. The law states that you have a lawful excuse to commit damage if you believe that the owner of the property that you damage would consent to the damage if they knew the circumstances.
  • Once removed from the car, move the dog to a shaded/cool area and douse him with cool water. Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water.
  • The dog should be seen by a vet as soon as possible.
© RSPCA.org.uk

Despite repeated warnings from a number of animal welfare charities every year, many owners still risk their pets’ lives by leaving them unattended in vehicles during warm weather,

RSPCA Spokesperson

“Alongside the obvious distress and potential death of a dog, someone found to be doing this could be prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act 2006,” she added.

The number of calls made to an RSPCA ‘heat exposure’ hotline from people with concerns about a dog in a hot car actually fell last year, slightly – from 83 in 2017 to 69 in 2018.

The RSPCA said it was increasingly frustrated its message to dog-owners not to leave their pets in a car in sunny or warm weather was not getting through – the charity had 8,290 calls about it last year.

“In an emergency, it is best to dial 999 and report a dog in a hot car to police,” she added.

“The RSPCA may not be able to attend quickly enough and, with no powers of entry, we’d need police assistance at such an incident.

“You can call the RSPCA’s 24-hour emergency cruelty line on 0300 1234 999 for advice but, if a dog is in danger, dialling 999 should always be the first step,” she added.

For more advice on keeping pets – and other animals – safe and happy during the warm weather visit here.

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