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Dogs die in hot cars

Monday, July 13, 2015

With the recent (albeit rather intermittent) heatwave we've been experiencing lately, there has been a lot of attention surrounding the issue of dogs being left in hot cars. We all know how unbearable an overheated car can be; even if it is 22⁰C outside, a car can heat up to 47⁰C within just one hour regardless of whether a window has been left open! So what can you do if you spot a dog that has been left for too long?

Call the police

If you notice a dog that is clearly displaying signs of heatstroke, dial 999 immediately. The police will then attend the incident and remove the dog from the car. If the police are unable to attend and the dog is in a critical state, you may be tempted to break in to the car yourself. However, please be aware that this could still be deemed as criminal damage.

Can you release the dog yourself?

“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 (section 5(2)(a) Criminal Damage Act 1971).” RSPCA.co.uk

According to the RSPCA website, if you do need to break in to somebody’s car to save an animal, they suggest that you inform the police of what you intend to do, take photographic/video evidence of the state of the dog and make sure you have names and contact details of witnesses.

What should you do if the dog isn't yet showing signs of heatstroke?

If the situation is not urgent, take a note of how long the dog has been left alone (e.g. look at a pay & display ticket) as cars can heat up very quickly. If you are in a supermarket or venue car park, you can report the car registration to staff members to make a tannoy announcement. Ideally, keep an eye on the dog to monitor its condition and report to the police if they take a turn for the worst.

If you are in any doubt as to what to do if you find a dog left unattended in a hot car, speak to the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 or call your local surgery for some advice.


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