This should be old news; dogs dying in hot cars, unfortunately it’s not, but why?
Let’s face it, some people shouldn’t own dogs. They won’t be following this page, even if they read it they just wouldn’t care; “it’s just a dog right, so what?”
So why do an article and market it to people who are already following a dog interest site? Clearly you don’t need preaching to, do you?
Who’s It For Then?
It’s for friends looking after dogs; with the Easter holidays upon on us, perhaps you know of someone who’s not a dog owner but has agreed to look after your or a neighbour’s dog whilst they are away on holiday. They love dogs and they are obviously good people otherwise they wouldn’t have offered but perhaps they aren’t aware of just how quickly a dog can overheat and need a reminder that whilst we enjoy the first warm days, we can simply leave our coats and jumpers behind but a dog cannot.
What Circumstances Lead to Dogs Getting Left Longer Than Planned?
Hands up who’s done this… you pop into the supermarket for a pint of milk and 30 minutes later, after buying that 100th bag for life, emerge with a car load of shopping (except the milk of course). If you don’t normally own a dog, you’ll be just doing what you normally would do plus adding a dog in, and if it’s in a crate in the boot, well you might simply forget.
How about you go to fetch the kids from school, you pop in for 5 minutes and the teacher asks you to have a quick word.
Your child’s suddenly ill you pop into the Doctors.
You need the loo, you’re out and about so you dive into Starbucks where inevitably there’s one loo and 4 people in the queue.
So you’re reading this and saying, I’d never do that, what about the dog? But the people who we’re are trying to reach with this article aren’t you; it’s the responsible, non dog owning people you know plus the temporary addition of a dog.
How Can We Tell Them
Firstly don’t patronise; these people aren’t stupid or dog hating, otherwise they wouldn’t have volunteered to dog sit in the first place.
Perhaps just say “gosh it’s warm today, where are you going to leave that dog whilst you go, shopping, pick up the kids, have your hair cut? Do you need a hand?”
Perhaps say you were going to do a similar thing today yourself but obviously you can’t leave your dog in the car because of the weather.
If you’re letting a friend dog sit for you, then perhaps give them a ‘dog on board’ sticker and jokingly say it’s not for the rear window but for the dashboard, so they don’t forget he’s in the boot.
Tell them about a friend whose brand new car had it’s windows smashed at great expense because a passerby saw their dog panting, say she’d only just got into the shop but the person smashing the car window wouldn’t know that and assumed the dog had been left to die.
Inside the small and insulated space of a car, temperatures can soar rapidly. The RSPCA says that when it is 22*C degrees outside, a fairly warm day in the UK, it can reach an unbearable 47*C degrees in a car within an hour
How Quickly Can a Dog Die
According to the Dogs Trust, it’s possible for a dog to die in a hot car in only 20 minutes, meaning it is important to act quickly if you see a dog in danger.
By providing people with information, Thames Valley Police hope to cut the number of needless animal deaths that could occur this summer by pets being left stranded in sweltering cars.
What Action Can People Take
If you see a dog struggling in a hot car, the first thing to do is to call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999, and inform them of the condition of the dog, the car’s registration number, and its location. A local dog warden service could also be able to help.
Once you have given them this information, they should send an inspector to deal with the situation and help the stricken animal.
If it is necessary to break into the car, they will call the police.
If It’s a Life or Death Situation?
In a desperate situation where a dog is at serious risk of death, call the police and ask how long it would take for them to get there.
If they can come quick enough, they will be able to take action. If they say they would take too long to arrive, and the RSPCA can’t respond quickly, it’s up to you to decide to take action, which could involve damaging the car to get the dog out.
Can I Get in Trouble for Breaking into the Car?
Naturally, in normal circumstances, it’s illegal to smash the window or break into someone’s car in another way.
However, if it’s a life or death situation, the law could be on your side in certain circumstances.
Section 5(2)(a) of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 says that you have a lawful excuse to cause the damage if at the time of the break-in, “you believed that the person or persons whom you believe to be entitled to consent to the destruction of or damage to the property in question… would so consent to it if s/he… had known the destruction or damage and its circumstances.”
Essentially, this means that if you think the dog owner would be happy to have their window broken to save their dog if they knew it was about to die, the law could be on your side if you decide to damage the car.
Cover Your Back
While it’s not necessary to keep you out of trouble, getting witnesses and taking pictures/videos of the dog and the attempt to get it out can provide police with evidence that you had a good reason to damage the car.
Let’s face it, you could be dealing with very grateful people who are otherwise responsible people and who are now wracked with guilt.
Perhaps there’s enough time between you rescuing the dog and the owner or police arriving on scene, that the dog quickly recovers making it look like you over reacted.
Or you could be dealing with someone who doesn’t care about the dog and now becomes violently confrontational about the damage to their car.
So don’t take it lightly, grab that quick photo, grab a passerby, be a good Samaritan but cover your back.
Will the owner get in trouble for leaving their dog in the car?
Possibly. It’s not an offence to leave a dog unattended in a car – when the temperature is appropriate, the animal will probably not be in danger if it is left for an appropriate amount of time.
However, under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, the maximum penalty for neglect or cruelty to animals is 51 weeks imprisonment, and/or a fine, not exceeding £20,000.
It would be up for the courts to decide what penalty the owner would receive if they were charged.
This article isn’t for you, it’s for the ‘others’ however you are the best people to spread the message,
- Don’t patronise your friends they mean well.
- Tell stories of what happened to other people in similar situations.
- If someone you know is temporarily looking after a dog, put yourself in their position, imagine what life’s like without a dog normally for them and offer to help look after the dog if they need to run errands.
- Suggest they try shopping online for food, just that week.
- If you are having your dog looked after, offer that dog onboard sticker for their dash.
- Remind them of the weather forecast
- Write them a guide to feeding your dog etc and add in the warm weather advice.
- Tell them to read this post.
Remember people rarely like being lectured to, you might needlessly put them off looking after your dog, cover the basics and enjoy your holiday.
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