As summer draws nearer, RSPCA warns owners: ‘Don’t leave dogs in cars’

An RSPCA inspector has tested how hot it can get in a vehicle on a warm day as a warning to pet owners in the run-up to summer.

Inspector Anthony Joynes left his car for an hour with the outside temperature reading as 15 degrees celsius (or 59 fahrenheit). After just 60 minutes, the temperature inside the white van had soared to a staggering 110.3 fahrenheit – that’s 43.5 degrees celsius.

The inspector, who works in the Cheshire area, posted the photo on social media and has asked his followers to share it and raise awareness of how dangerous it can be to leave animals in cars when it’s warm outside. It’s since been shared almost 8,000 times.

“I left my van, switched off, for an hour in direct sunlight,” he said. “It was only 15 degrees outside but, after just an hour, it was 43.5 inside.

“Leaving the windows open an inch would have had almost zero impact and a dog would begin to suffer very quickly in this heat.

“I hear it all the time: ‘It was only for five minutes’. But that is too long.

“Dogs die in hot cars – I’ve seen it, I’ve dealt with it, and I’ll never forget it.”

The RSPCA works with its partners on the Dogs Die in Hot Cars campaign each summer. The campaign urges pet owners to avoid leaving animals in cars, conservatories, outbuildings or caravans during warm weather as temperatures can quickly rise and may result in death.

What to do if you see a dog in a car on a warm day

Inspector Joynes added: “In an emergency, it is best to dial 999 and report a dog in a hot car to police. The RSPCA may not be able to attend quickly enough and, with no powers of entry, we’d 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.

You can call our 24-hour emergency cruelty line on 0300 1234 999 for advice but, in a dog is in danger, dialling 999 should always be the first step. More information is also available on the RSPCA website here.

The RSPCA relies on public donations to exist. To assist our Inspectors in carrying out their vital work please text HELP to 78866 to give £3 (Texts cost £3 + one standard network rate message).

Notes to editors
The Dogs Die in Hot Cars campaign is also supported by Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Blue Cross, BVA, The Mayhew Animal Home, National Animal Welfare Trust, NPCC, PDSA, and Wood Green.

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