You would think it goes without saying that dogs shouldn’t be left in cars when it is hot, wouldn’t you? But every summer dogs lose their lives in these death traps due to their careless owners.
On a summer’s day, when temperatures are creeping through the 20’s and into the 30’s – have you ever tried to sit in the car with the windows up? I’m sure that if you did, you would last be less than 30 seconds before you had to roll all the windows all the way down and even then, it would feel too hot if you were stationary.
Likewise, when your car has sat outside in the heat all day and you get back into it for the first time, the steering wheel is often almost too hot to touch and it may feel like you have entered a sauna.
But in both of these scenarios you have the luxury of being able to get out the car or roll down the windows – your dog doesn’t. You would never choose to sit in a stationary car with the windows up as the sun beats down on you through the glass – and nor would your dog, but the choice isn’t theirs.
The RSPCA receives the equivalent of one call per hour about dogs trapped in hot cars – one call every hour is far too many. One call a day would still even ben too many, but sadly it continues to happen.
In 2015, the RSPCA received 8,779 calls to report incidents of dogs in cars – in 2014 this number was at an all time high of 10,229. As a result a campaign called ‘Dogs Die in Hot Cars’ was launched to try and improve these concerning statistics. The RSPCA has assembled a group of 12 organisations to spread the word about the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars, including Dog’s Trust and The Kennel Club.
Many people still believe it is OK if the car is in the shade with windows open and they are only left for a few minutes. But, just try this yourself and you will see why “not long” is still too long for your pet.
Even in the shade the inside of your car can become double the temperature of outside within 60 minutes – if it is 22°C outside, the inside of a car can get to 47°C.
Already this year several cases have been reported in the papers, including this 12-year old Yorkshire Terrier-type – which was left in a car in Nottingham during a heatwave. Police offers had to smash the car window in order to save the dogs life – as it panted for air and desperately looked for shade in the foot-wells, thankfully this little dog survived but others haven’t been as lucky.
If you are planning to get your first dog this summer – whether you are looking at Staffie, Labrador or German Shepherd puppies – make sure you know how to look after them properly during the summer months, when they face considerable dangers from the heat.
If you are concerned about the immediate safety of an animal in this weather, particularly dogs in hot vehicles, the RSPCA and Association of Chief Police advise that you call 999.
If the situation becomes critical for the dog and the police are too far away, your instinct may be to break into the car to free the dog. Just make sure you tell the police what you intend to do first and why – take images/footage of the dog and names and numbers of witnesses – so you can defend your actions or the dog won’t be the only on in hot water.
Once removed, if the dog is displaying signs of heatstroke, follow this emergency first aid advice – it could be the difference between life and death for the dog.
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