SPCA constable responds to a dog locked in a car. Symptoms of heatstroke in dogs include exaggerate panting

Cities want authority to break car windows

Only police and SPCA constables have authority to enter cars or other private property to free an overheated dog

Local government representatives are calling on the province to give bylaw officers authority to break into vehicles and rescue animals in distress.

Kamloops Mayor Peter Milobar was supported unanimously when he called for the new authority at last week’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler.

Milobar told local government representatives that when municipal staff find an animal trapped in an overheated car, they must contact police or SPCA constables, who have authority to enter a vehicle or other property to rescue animals.

Being on the scene but unable to take action is a difficult situation for municipal staff, Milobar said.

The outgoing president of the UBCM, Columbia-Shuswap Regional District director Rhona Martin, cautioned that such a power could embroil local governments in “good neighbour-bad neighbour” disputes, where one neighbour makes complaints and municipal staff enter a barn or other building to respond. But no one opposed the resolution.

Dogs left in locked vehicles are a problem every summer, and received extra public attention this year when six dogs from Delta died in a dog walker’s truck in Richmond in May.

Dog walker Emma Paulson was prosecuted after the bodies of the dogs were found in a ditch in Abbotsford. Paulson initially said the dogs had been stolen from the back of her truck.