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Everyone enjoys warm weather, but for a man’s best friend the summer weather can be extremely dangerous if they are left in the car.
In Shropshire, the number of reports of dogs left in cars in hot weather has increased by 20 percent according to a new report.
Despite multiple campaigns and repeated warnings over the deadly effects of leaving your dog in a hot car, in 2018, 70 calls were made to the RSPCA about animals and heat exhaustion, compared to 60 in 2017.
The RSPCA received more than 8,200 calls from across the country last year.
With temperatures reaching 30 degrees, dog owners are being called to think again when leaving their dog in the car. Even if the car is parked in the shade, the inside of the vehicle can quickly rise to dangerous levels.
Don’t Leave Your Dog in Hot Car
Not only is leaving your dog in a hot car cruel, but it can also come with heavy punishments.
Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, leaving your dog in a hot car can be considered an illegal offence. If a dog left in a hot vehicle became ill or resulted in a fatality the owner could be prosecuted for neglect or cruelty. If convicted they could face up to six months in custody or a fine up to £20,000.
The RSPCA recommends that if you see a dog in a hot car that you call 999 immediately and request the police, stressing that breaking into the car could be considered criminal damage.
A spokesperson for RSPCA said, “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.
"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."
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Police Nearly Break Window in Bid to Rescue Dog in Hot Car
The warning from RSPCA comes after police officers nearly smashed a car window in Telford to free the dogs just as the owners returned.
Telford Patrol was in Dawley when they saw the trapped animals which they said were locked up for nearly 35 minutes.
However, as they were about to break the windows to free the dogs, the owners returned.
They said on Twitter:
“Call for concern for dogs locked in a hot car in #Dawley.
“We’re about to smash the window to rescue the dogs when the owners returned Dogs had been in there for at least 33 minutes & were clearly distressed”
“It is HOT out DO NOT leave your dog in a car!”
They later said that that they had spoken to the owners, who seemed more concerned they were about to smashed their car window through and that they were making a referral to the RSPCA.
Dogs Freed From Vehicle in Ludlow
Earlier this year, police were called after two dogs were left unattended in a car in Ludlow, which with the officer forcing the windows to free the animals.
Passersby noticed the animals in distress in the vehicle. The officer attended and also saw the dogs were in distress and called the RSPCA.
Ludlow Spring Festival was taking place and a message was sent out over the tannoy to contact owners.
West Mercia Police said: “After giving the car owner a few minutes the officer at the scene decided that in the best interests of the health of the two dogs there was a requirement to force the windows.
“Sometime after this, the owner of the car returned. They were given strong words of advice regarding the care of their dogs by the Officer.
They also advised “Dogs should never be left unattended in a locked car, especially not in warm weather. The Police will break the windows of cars to ensure the safety of dogs left in them in the heat.”
“Even if a car is parked in the shade, a car can still retain more heat than an open area which can pose a huge risk to a dog left inside.”
How to Help a Dog in a Hot Car
Despite repeated warnings, many people still believe it’s okay to leave a dog in a car on a warm day if the windows are left open or they are parked in the shade.
However, it is a very dangerous situation for dogs and their health can deteriorate quickly. If it is 22 degrees outside, then it can reach 47 degrees in the car within an hour.
RSPCA advises that if you see a dog in a hot car you follow their advice:
· Establish the animal's health and condition. If they're displaying any signs of heatstroke dial 999 immediately.
· If the situation becomes critical for the dog and the police are too far away or unable to attend, many people's instinct will be to break into the car to free the dog. If you decide to do this, please be aware that without proper justification, this could be classed as criminal damage and, potentially, you may need to defend your actions in court.
· Make sure you tell the police what you intend to do and why. Take pictures or videos of the dog and the names and numbers of witnesses to the incident. 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).
What are the Symptoms of Heatstroke in Dogs
Once the dog is removed from the vehicle you will need to check for signs of heatstroke. Warning signs include the dog panting heavily, drooling excessively, appearing lethargic and has collapsed or is vomiting.
If the dog is displaying these symptoms, move them to a cool, shaded area and call a vet immediately.
The Dogs Trust says that some dogs are more prone to heatstroke than others. For example, very old or very young dogs, dogs with thick heavy coats or dogs with short flat faces like pugs and bulldog breeds. Dogs with certain diseases or on medication may also be at risk.
To establish how long the dog has been in the car, it may help to check a parking ticket. Make a note of the car’s registration number. If the owner returns, but you feel the situation was still dangerous for the dog then you can still report them to the police.
Take Care of Your Pet
Often it is best to try and not travel with your pet in warm weather, but if you do need to then West Mercia Police has some advice.
“On longer journeys, make sure you have water available for the dog and have the windows open or air conditioning running to ensure your pet doesn't overheat.”
“Never leave your dog alone in a car on a warm day. If you see a dog in distress in a hot car, dial 999 in an emergency or 101.”