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Dogs die in hot cars, warn animal groups

More than 40 percent of people believe it can be acceptable to leave a dog in a hot car, worrying new figures from the RSPCA have revealed.

A survey of more than 8,000 people, commissioned by the RSPCA, revealed that only 55 percent agreed that it is never acceptable to leave a dog in a hot car.

The RSPCA and 11 other groups have joined forces to raise awareness among the general public, and particularly among dog owners, that it is never acceptable to leave a dog in a hot car.

It comes following the deadly summer of 2016 in which a number of dogs perished in cars and conservatories.

Campaigning together

The ‘Dogs Die in Hot Cars’ campaign group is made up of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Blue Cross, British Veterinary Association, Dog’s Trust, The Kennel Club, The Mayhew Animal Home, National Animal Welfare Trust, National Police Chiefs Council, PDSA, RSPCA, #TeamOtisUK and Wood Green The Animals Charity.

Campaign manager Holly Barber, from the RSPCA, said: “You should never leave a dog in a hot car. This isn’t a new message, it’s something we’ve been shouting from the rooftops for a number of years now but it’s staggering that more than 40% of people still think it’s okay.

“The message is getting through to many people but there are still too many instances where animals are being left in sweltering cars, caravans and conservatories and tragically some of them have deadly consequences like last summer when four dogs died.”

Now, the group of charities and organisations, are striving to ensure no more animals suffer or die needlessly because of a lack of awareness around the dangers of leaving animals in hot environments.

Holly added: “While ignorance is bliss in many circumstances, this most certainly is not one of them.

“There is no excuse for owners not to be aware of the dangers associated with leaving any animal in an environment in which they cannot escape the heat or the sun.

“It doesn’t have to be a hot day, it doesn’t have to be a car, and it doesn’t have to be a dog.

“We’ve seen dogs dying in cars but we’ve also, tragically, seen them lose their lives in conservatories. And while generally dogs are most likely to be affected, they are not the only pets this applies to.

Pets’ safety

The group aims to reduce the number of dogs, and other pets, suffering having from being left in cars or at home in conservatories or other hot environments, by raising awareness of the dangers.

Kennel Club Secretary Caroline Kisko added: “Owners should never leave a dog unattended in a vehicle or other potentially hot environment, it is not enough to just open a window or leave a supply of water.

“Dogs should instead be left in a secure, cool place with access to shade and water, or if you know this won’t be possible, you should consider leaving your dog at home in cool, safe surroundings.

“In an ideal world owners can take their dogs with them when they shop or go for a bite to eat, this is one of the reasons why the Kennel Club encourages businesses to be dog friendly and welcome our four legged friends rather than insist that they wait outside or in the car.”

It’s important to remember not to leave any animal in a car or caravan, or in a conservatory or outbuilding, where temperatures can quickly rise, even when it doesn’t feel that warm outside. For example, when it’s 22C outside, within an hour the temperature can reach 47C inside a vehicle, which can result in death.

In an emergency, call 999

In an emergency, the group’s advice is to call 999 to report a dog in a hot car to police. However, the RSPCA’s survey revealed that only 48 percent of people said they would call the police first.

As a charity, the RSPCA may not be able to attend quickly enough and, with no powers of entry, would need police assistance at such an incident.

  • If the animal is displaying any sign of heatstroke – such as panting heavily, drooling excessively, is lethargic or uncoordinated, or collapsed and vomiting – call 999 immediately;

  • If the situation becomes critical and police can’t attend, many people’s instinct is to break into the car to free the dog. But please be aware that, without proper justification, this could be classed as criminal damage. 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;

  • Once removed from the car, move the dog to a shaded/cool area and douse him/her with cool water. Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water;

  • If the dog isn’t displaying signs of heatstroke, establish how long the dog has been in the car and make a note of the registration. Ask a member of staff to make an announcement of the situation over the tannoy, if possible, and get someone to stay with the dog to monitor its condition.

Members of the public 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.

This study was commissioned by the RSPCA and conducted in Great Britain via Kantar TNS OnLineBus, an internet omnibus survey. The sample size was 8,567 GB adults aged 16+ were interviewed. Interviewing was conducted by online self-completion from 25th October to 17th November 2016.

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