With the arrival of summer and scorching temperatures this weekend, the BC SPCA is reminding people to leave their pets at home rather than in their vehicle.
“We can’t stress enough that it can be fatal to leave your pet in a hot car, even for 10 minutes, but still we receive hundreds of calls about animals in distress, every year,” says Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the BC SPCA.
“Doing so is so dangerous for your pet – the temperature in a parked car, even in the shade with windows partly open, can rapidly reach a level that will seriously harm or even kill a pet.”
Chortyk said the temperature in a parked car can climb to well over 38 degrees Celsius.
Dogs have no sweat glands, so they can only cool themselves by panting and by releasing heat through their paws, she notes.
Dogs can withstand high temperatures for only a very short time – in some cases, just minutes – before suffering irreparable brain damage or death.
“If you’re used to letting your dog accompany you on errands, you might feel guilty leaving him behind on hot days. But your dog will be much happier – and safer – at home, with shade and plenty of fresh cool water,” Chortyk says.
She says it is illegal for members of the public to break a window to access a vehicle; only police and special provincial constables of the SPCA can lawfully enter a vehicle.
If anyone sees an animal they think is in distress, it is suggested they call the BC SPCA animal cruelty hotline at 1-855-622-7722 during business hours (9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends) and staff will connect them with their local animal control or police. In an emergency, call 911.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SEE A DOG IN DISTRESS IN A PARKED VEHICLE
• Note the licence plate and vehicle information and ask managers of nearby businesses to page the owner to return to their vehicle immediately.
• Call to report the situation if no owner is found or when the animal is suffering heatstroke symptoms.
• Keep emergency supplies – bottled water, a small bowl, a towel that can be soaked in water – in your car so that you help hydrate an animal (if a window has been left open) while you wait for emergency response; a battery-powered fan from a dollar store also can be handy to circulate air.
SYMPTOMS OF HEATSTROKE IN PETS
• Exaggerated panting (or the sudden stopping of panting)
• Rapid or erratic pulse
• Anxious or staring expression
• Weakness and muscle tremors
• Lack of coordination, convulsions
Visit spca.bc.ca for more information.
Click here for a hot pet infographic
Click here for a Dogs in Hot Cars poster
Click here for an information brochure