Do not leave your dog in a car.
Every year we see and read stories about dogs being left in cars, more particularly during the hot summer months. A car can become an oven extremely quickly, even if it is not that warm outside, the temperature can soar. For example, if it is 22 0 C outside, inside your car it could be potentially 47 0 C within 60 minutes. Leaving a window ajar or leaving water is really not enough to prevent fatal injuries.
What the UK law says: Although it is not illegal to leave your dog in a car. It is illegal to mistreat or abuse an animal in your care. Therefore, leaving your dog in a hot car is animal neglect under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and you could face up to six months in prison and/or a fine of up to £20,000.
What you should do if you see a dog in a car, especially on a warm day:
- If at a local event have someone stay by the car while you immediately seek out the police, ask organisers to give information over the PA system to alert the owners, or if you are local shops then speak immediately to the members of staff to make an announcement or dial 999 especially if you feel for the dog’s health or condition (i.e. the dog is starting to display signs of distress or heatstroke).
- Be aware that if you break into the car to rescue the dog you could be charged with criminal damages and you may have to defend your actions in court (Criminal Damage Act 1971). However, if you have contacted the police then it may be useful to explain to them what you are doing and why. Taking pictures or a video and having witnesses to the incident may explain to the owner why you have carried out the act. Look to see if there is a car parking ticket on the window – this will give you a good indication on how long the dog has been in the car – take a picture and a picture of the car and its registration number. If the owner returns and you feel the dog was in danger, you can still report the incident.
Once the dog is out of the car:
- You will need to lower their temperature slowly so move the dog out of the car and to a shaded and cool area.
- Find some cool water – cold water may send the dog into shock. To help with cooling, wet towels, car fans or hand-held fans can also help to cool the dog.
- Let the dog have some water to drink- but only in small amounts.
- Continue to cool the dog with water as monitor his breathing making sure that he or she does not start to shiver.
- Call the vet (either the vet at the event, or local vet or owner’s vet) to get the dog seen by a vet immediately.
- First make sure that the dog is not suffering from heatstroke (excessively drooling, lethargic, sleepy, uncoordinated, heavily panting, vomiting or has collapsed) – move them to a cool and shaded area and call for veterinary assistance immediately.