RSPCA Cymru has appealed to owners to keep their dogs safe in the sun.
It can become unbearably hot inside a car on a sunny day. When it’s just 22 degrees outside, a car can reach a staggering 47 degrees in an hour. Dogs can’t cool down in the same way humans can so leaving a window open or parking in the shade will not keep the car cool enough and dogs may still suffer.
Under the Animal Welfare Act owners have a duty of care towards their animals to protect their welfare needs and prevent suffering which includes not exposing them to extremes of temperature.
If a dog is left in a car on a warm day and suffers the owners could be at risk of prosecution.
Between 2011 and 2014 the RSPCA in Wales received 342 dog heat exposure complaints in Wales.
Last year (2014) the highest number of complaints received came from Rhondda Cynon Taff (16). In 2013 the most complaints came from Carmarthenshire (51).
RSPCA Cymru’s political campaign’s manager Martin Fidler Jones said: “Nobody ever thinks it’s going to happen to them or their much loved dog, yet every year many people still gamble with dog’s lives and every summer dogs die in hot cars.
“Many people still believe that it’s ok to leave a dog in a car on a warm day if the windows are left open or they are parked in the shade, but the truth is, it’s still a very dangerous situation for the dog.
“While not every dog who is put in this position will die, they are likely at the very least to experience distress, discomfort and anxiety.
“Just put yourself in their position and ask yourself how you’d feel about being trapped in a hot car, how unpleasant and frightening it would be.”
A coalition of animal welfare charities and the police have launched a hard hitting campaign, warning people of the devastating consequences of leaving dogs in hot cars and urging people to dial 999 if they see an animal in distress.
The organisations include RSPCA, The British Veterinary Association (BVA), National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Blue Cross, The Mayhew Animal Home, PDSA, Wood Green The Animals Charity and the National Animal Welfare Trust. For the campaign, the organisations have recreated a harrowing real life incident, where a couple who had been shopping returned to find their dog had died from the heat.
Recent British Veterinary Association research has shown nearly half of vets (48%) questioned treated animals for conditions related to hot weather during summer 2014 – the vast majority of which were dogs.**
The coalition also believe that retailers, venues and car parks have a duty to ensure that when animals are on their premises, their welfare is being protected and if not, action is taken. It is important to have clear procedures in place and clear information for their visitors reminding them of the risks of leaving any animal in a car.
The NPCC (National Police Chiefs Council) have thrown their weight behind the campaign.
“NPCC wholeheartedly support this campaign. Causing unnecessary suffering to an animal is an offence and the police take this issue very seriously,” says temporary Chief Constable Gareth Wilson – who is the NPCC’s national lead for police dogs.
If you see a dog in distress in a hot car call the police on 999.
**BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey is a bi-annual survey of vets drawn from BVA members and carried out by the independent research company, Alpha Research www.alpharesearch.co.uk. The Voice of the Veterinary Profession captures the profession’s views and experiences by asking questions about animal health and welfare, public health, and trends in the veterinary profession. The panel is broadly representative of the BVA membership, which is largely in line with RCVS membership. For more information about the survey please go to www.bva.co.uk/voice