The RSPCA has reported receiving three calls every hour over the Bank Holiday weekend concerning dogs locked in hot cars across England – adding up to a total of 217 calls. The figures come as the charity revealed over the weekend that it received 7,876 calls in 2017 about animals in hot environments.
Most of the calls over the Bank Holiday weekend came form Hampshire (17), Greater London and West Yorkshire (12 each) and Surrey (9). A few of the calls concerned dogs in conservatories or caravans, but the vast majority was exposed to heat in parked cars. In 2017, a total of 626 such calls came from Greater London – followed by 258 in Devon, 246 in Surrey and 244 in Greater Manchester.
On a warm day it doesn’t take long for temperatures to climb inside a parked car, which can lead to overheating and potentially fatal heat stroke in dogs. It doesn’t take an exceptionally warm day for that to happen, and the RSPCA is warning dog owners that dogs should never be left unattended in parked cars – ‘not long’ is too long.
RSPCA campaign manager Holly Barber said, “Many people think it will be fine just to leave their pets for a minute or two but we know that this is all it takes for temperatures inside a car to soar to dangerous levels.
“Dogs die in hot cars – don’t let your pet be one of the number. We have been doing a lot of campaigning lately about the dangers of leaving your dog in a hot car, and it’s really worrying that despite this, some people are still putting their pets in dangerous situations.
“Our main advice to owners is not to leave dogs in cars and our main advice to passers-by is to call 999 if they’re concerned about an animal in a hot environment.”
RSPCA advice – what to do
In an emergency, it is best to dial 999 and report a dog in a hot car to police. 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.
If the animal is displaying any sign of heatstroke – such as panting heavily, drooling excessively, is lethargic or uncoordinated, or collapsed and vomiting – call 999 immediately.
If the situation becomes critical and police can’t attend, many people’s instinct is to break into the car to free the dog. But 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 pour small amounts of cool water over their body. Don’t use cold water as this could put the dog into shock. Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water. Once the dog is cool take him to the nearest vet as a matter of urgency.
If the dog isn’t displaying signs of heatstroke, establish how long they have been in the car and make a note of the registration. |f they are parked outside a business, ask a member of staff to make an announcement of the situation over the tannoy, if possible, and get someone to stay with the dog to monitor its condition.
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.
For more information on what to do if you see a dog in a hot car, visit the RSPCA website.
Images by RSPCA.