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With the recent high temperatures of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, charities are reminding owners not to leave their pets in hot cars following more than 8,000 heat-related reports to RSPCA.

On Easter Monday (22 April), a member of the public found a four-month-old terrier puppy collapsed in Talbot Green, Wales. He was rushed to the vets and has since recovered.

Dog found collapsed at Talbot Green
Dog found collapsed at Talbot Green

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, British Parking Association and British Veterinary Association (BVA) are just some of the organisations who have all teamed up to spread the message: Dogs Die in Hot Cars.

This year’s campaign was launched yesterday (6 May) on Dogs Die in Hot Cars Awareness Day but despite annual awareness, last year saw a three-year high for the number of reports of animals suffering heat exhaustion.

The RSPCA’s emergency line in England & Wales received 8,290 reports last year. Dogs Die in Hot Cars campaign manager, Holly Barber from the RSPCA, said, “Last year was our busiest for three years with almost 8,300 emergency calls made to the RSPCA about this issue – that’s a 5% increase from 2017 and a 15% rise from 2016.

“It’s extremely concerning that despite all of our campaigning, dog owners are still ignoring our warnings and risking their pets’ lives by leaving them alone in cars on warm days. How many more dogs need to die before people realise that that split second decision – usually made due to convenience – could have life-changing consequences?”

Just over a quarter (26%) of vets surveyed as part of BVA’s autumn 2018 survey said they had seen cases of dogs requiring treatment for heat-related conditions over the summer. The survey also found that almost one in seven vets (13%) had seen a dog coming into their practice suffering as a result of being left in a car.

BVA junior vice president Daniella Dos Santos said, “Vets all too often see the unfortunate and sometimes tragic consequences of dogs being left on their own in cars, and it’s deeply worrying that so many owners are still prepared to take this risk despite numerous warnings. With summer just around the corner, it’s vital that everyone thinks twice about leaving dogs in a hot car even for a short while: ‘not long’ is too long.”

What to do if you see a dog in a hot car

In an emergency, dial 999 and report a dog in a hot car to police as they can attend quickly and have the powers to gain entry to a locked vehicle.

If the situation becomes critical and police can’t attend, many people’s instinct will be to break the glass. Without proper justification, this could be classed as criminal damage so 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.

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 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.

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