What the law says you can do to help a dog trapped in a hot car

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A mini-heatwave has already pushed temperatures into the high 20s and they could soar higher on Friday, according to the Met Office.

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While many people are enjoying the warmer temperatures, they can be less comfortable for our pets, and recent high temperatures have again warned of the dangers of leaving pets in hot cars.

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Despite repeated warnings from animal rights organizations, many people still find it acceptable to leave a dog or other pet in a car on a hot day, as long as it is in the shade or the windows are open.

Leaving windows open is not enough to ensure pets stay cool on hot days

But even on a relatively mild day, the inside of a car can quickly become dangerously hot. That RSPCA warns that with an outside temperature of 22 degrees inside a car, a dangerous 47 degrees can be reached within an hour. A dog caught in this type of heat risks fatal heat stroke or a heart attack.

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Is it illegal to leave a dog in a hot car?

It is not illegal to leave a pet unattended in a car. However, if the animal becomes ill or dies because it was left behind, you can be charged with animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

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In such cases you can be sentenced to up to 51 weeks in prison and a fine of up to £20,000. In 2017, a pet owner was fined nearly £2,000 when his three dogs died after being left in a hot car for five hours.

What to do if you see a dog locked in a hot car

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If you spot a dog or other animal in distress in a car on a hot day, you should act immediately.

If you are in a public area such as a store, venue, event, or rest stop, note the car’s make, model, color, and registration number, then go inside and ask to make an announcement. If this does not bring the owner out or you are in a location where it is impossible to locate the owner, dial 999 and ask for the police.

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If you feel the situation is critical, the animal is suffering and there is no other option, you can break a window to save the dog, but be aware there are legal ramifications. Breaking into the car to rescue an animal could still be considered criminal damage and you could have to defend your actions in court.

The RSPCA’s advice, if you decide to take such action, is that you tell the police in advance what you intend to do and why. Take photos or videos of the dog and the names and numbers of any witnesses to the incident.

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The law states that you have a lawful excuse to do damage if you believe that the owner of the property you damaged would consent to the damage if they knew the circumstances.

If the animal isn’t obviously in distress but you’re concerned, the RSPCA suggests you try to determine how long the dog has been in the car – a pay and display ticket could help with this – and make note of it Registration of the car. If the owner returns but you still feel the situation was dangerous for the dog, you can still report the incident to the police. If you are in a store, venue or event, ask staff to make an announcement to alert the owner of the situation. If possible, have someone stay with the dog to monitor its condition. If they show signs of stress or heat stroke, such as B. severe wheezing, vomiting or glassy eyes, be prepared to dial 999.

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How to take care of your dog in hot weather

If you are traveling with a dog in hot weather, take plenty of breaks and stay hydrated

When traveling with your pet, a few simple steps will ensure it is safe and comfortable. First, make sure your dog can stay cool while traveling by using air conditioning or opening a window. Bring plenty of fresh drinking water and a bowl, and take plenty of breaks to give them a drink. If you suspect the dog is too hot, stop in a safe place and give them a good glass of water, preferably in the shade.

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If you suspect your dog is getting heatstroke on a trip, stop in a safe place and move him to a shaded or cool area.

Signs of heat exhaustion/heat stroke include excessive thirst, excessive panting, increased heart rate, fever, vomiting, glassy eyes, dizziness and lethargy.

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If your dog develops any of these symptoms, the RSPCA recommends dousing the animal with cool (not cold) water or using wet towels or a fan to cool it. You should also let him drink small amounts of cool water and take him to a vet to be checked out.

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