As temperatures reach 30C in parts of the UK, dog owners are being warned against leaving their pets in cars while they nip out to run errands.
The British Veterinary Association recorded a spike in the number of dogs left in hot cars in 2019 – and does not want to see a repeat of that this year.
Within 10 minutes a car’s temperature can increase by 10C, in 30 minutes it can see a 19C increase in temperature, and in one hour it can see a 23C increase.
Dogs usually start to experience heat exhaustion when their body temperature reaches 32C, with heatstroke occurring when their body temperature reaches over 40C.
To help keep dogs out of the vet’s room, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts has pulled together advice on how to keep your pets safe and what to do if you find a dog suffering in a hot car.
Never leave an animal alone in a vehicle for any amount of time
When faced with the dilemma of leaving your pet alone or unloading the whole car and dragging a canine around while you quickly run an errand – you might be tempted to leave your dog on their own for a few moments.
However, even if you’ve taken precautions like parking in the shade and cracking a window, it’s not enough.
Dogs don’t sweat like humans and can only lose heat through panting. This means they struggle to regulate their temperature if stuck in a hot space and the effects can be deadly.
What to do if you see an animal left unattended in a car in the heat
Call for the owner and alert staff if you’re by a shop
If you see a dog alone in a car during summer, you should first check to see if the owner is nearby.
If you’re near a shop, inform the staff and security, they’ll be able to make a shop-wide announcement to alert the owner.
The police have the authority to break a car window to rescue an animal in danger but you should not attempt to gain access to the vehicle as you could be fined for criminal damage or injure the animal inside the car.
Check the doors and inform the police of your intentions
If there’s no alternative, you should first check the doors to see if the car has been left unlocked.
If you do have to break a window to save the animal, make sure you call 999 and let the police know what you’re doing and take photos and videos to clearly record the situation.
You should also note down the license plate number and any witness details.
Explaining this further, solicitor Matthew Reynolds, who works for Kirwans law firm based in Merseyside, told Cheshire Live: “Although smashing a window to rescue a distressed dog in a locked vehicle could lead to a charge of criminal damage, you would have a lawful excuse to smash the window if you believed that the owner of the vehicle would have consented to the damage, had they been aware of the circumstances.
“It would also be a defence to a charge of criminal damage if you smashed the window to protect the owner’s property (the dog) in the belief that the dog was in need of immediate protection and that smashing the window was reasonable in the circumstances to achieve that aim.
“If you do remove a dog from a car, tell the police what you intend to do and why. It would also be a good idea to take photographs or video of the dog and contact details of any witnesses to the incident.”
He added that you could also technically be charged with theft but, in the circumstances, its “hard to see” how you could be prosecuted successfully on that basis.