Don’t risk it – Scottish SPCA issues warning about dogs in hot cars

We are urging members of the public to keep their dogs safe in warm weather after last year’s heatwave led to a surge in reports to our animal helpline.

DDIHCWe received 1,025 reports of dogs in hot cars in 2018, an increase of 80% on the previous year due to the hot summer. During the recent warm weather over Easter weekend, we received 43 calls from concerned members of the public about dogs in hot cars.

We have teamed up with the RSPCA and other animal welfare organisations to issue a UK-wide plea to the public to avoid leaving dogs in vehicles on hot days.

Chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “If you imagine being trapped in an oven with a fur coat, it will give you some sense of how a dog can feel inside a hot car.

“It only takes a few minutes for a dog to overheat in a hot vehicle and leaving a window open or a bowl of water simply is not good enough. Our message is simple – don’t risk it. If you’ll be leaving the dog in the car, even on a warm, cloudy day, just leave your pet at home with plenty of water and adequate ventilation. If your pet is outdoors, make sure there is an adequate space with shelter where they can get out of the sun.

“Over the years, we have prosecuted people who have allowed dogs to die in hot cars. This is completely avoidable if everyone uses common sense and doesn’t risk it. In one case in 2016, a Yorkshire terrier died from a cardiac arrest due caused by heatstroke after just one hour inside a hot car.”

We have issued some general advice for pet owners to help their animals cope with hot weather, including: 

  • Dogs benefit from being walked early in the morning or late at night as pavements can get very hot and burn their paws. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for paws.
  • Cooling bandanas, paddling pools or cold/wet blankets are a great way to help a canine keep cool in the heat.
  • If your pet seems uncomfortable, dipping their feet in to water or spraying a mist of water on to their face can help.

Anyone with concerns about the welfare of an animal should contact the Scottish SPCA’s animal helpline on 0300 999 999.

Mike added: “A dog in a hot car is in serious and immediate danger and a member of our team will attend any reports of these as quickly as possible.”

If a dog is in a critical situation in a car and the police are not in attendance, instinct can be to smash a car window to break the dog out. This could be classed as criminal damage without proper justification and anyone who does so may have to defend themselves in court. The law states that someone has a lawful excuse to commit damage if they believe the owner of the property they would damage would consent if they knew the circumstances.

We advise anyone who is going to break a dog from a hot car to inform us and Police Scotland first and to take the names and numbers of any witnesses and to take photos and videos of the dog.

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