This column was first published in the Daily Post on Monday 5 June; and is the first of Chief Inspector Leanne Hardy’s new column for the North Wales newspaper.

Chief Inspector Leanne HardyAs summer approaches, it’s so sad to see a circus containing wild animals back on the road.

Most people I speak to across the region can’t believe that – in 2017 – we still face the prospect in North Wales of a travelling circus using wildlife for such entertainment turning up on our doorsteps.

These performances are no fun for animals. They’re a depressing relic of the past; from a time when our understanding of animals and their welfare was far less advanced, and far less compassionate.

Put simply, the complex needs of wild animals cannot be met in a circus environment, and the travelling nature of these shows presents huge welfare issues. Human shows should be entertaining enough – and Wales cannot stand-by whilst animals are subjected to a circus life where they simply do not belong.

So far this year, a circus with performing wild animals has appeared in South Wales; but campaigners expect a visit to our region soon enough.

RSPCA Cymru will continue to campaign against this out-dated and cruel practice; in the hope that a Welsh Government ban will soon become a reality.

But one of the best ways for these circus shows to stop is for people to vote with their feet – and if this sad show makes it way to North Wales in the weeks which follow, I urge communities the length and breadth of the region to steer clear.

The summer brings other challenges, too – and we’ll all be hoping for soaring temperatures across North Wales this summer.
However, warmer weather conditions also see certain seasonal calls come into our 24-hour Advice & Cruelty Line – including, far too often, dogs left in hot cars.

Leaving a dog in a hot car – even for the shortest period of time – can have devastating consequences for the animal; and leave a person subject to prosecution.

Temperatures can soar inside a car very quickly, even when it doesn’t feel that warm. At 22 degrees Celsius, a car can reach unbearable temperatures of 47 degrees within one hour. Indeed, the situation can still be exceptionally dangerous for dogs if the windows are left open, water is left inside, or a vehicle is parked in the shade.

If you see a dog in distress in a hot car in North Wales this summer displaying any signs of heat stroke – such as heavy panting, excessive drooling, and appearing lethargic, drowsy or uncoordinated – we urge people to dial 999. My inspectors do not have powers of entry and, therefore, would require Police assistance to deal with such an incident.

Even if the dog is not displaying symptoms of heatstroke, it’s vital to establish how long a dog has been in a car – using evidence like a ‘pay and display’ ticket, noting down the car’s registration plate, and asking any neighbouring shops or events to put out an announcement.

While RSPCA inspectors see horrendous things on the front line, we know that North Wales – on the whole – is a region of animal lovers. Giving animal circus shows a miss, and helping to prevent dogs being left in hot cars, are another two ways we can work together to boost animal welfare across the region.