RSPCA Cymru continues to receive hundreds of “troubling” calls annually about dogs left in hot cars – despite a major campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of doing so.
Over the past two years there have been nearly 1,000 calls to the RSPCA in Wales in regards to concerns of animals exposed to heat – 494 calls in 2018 and 497 calls in 2017. A huge majority of these calls were in relation to dogs in hot cars.
The RSPCA has teamed-up with Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Blue Cross, British Parking Association, British Veterinary Association (BVA), Dogs Trust, The Kennel Club, The Mayhew Animal Home, National Animal Welfare Trust, The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), PDSA, Scottish SPCA, #TeamOtisUK and ‘Wood Green The Animals Charity’ to spread the message – Dogs Die in Hot Cars.
This latest campaign is launching on Dogs Die In Hot Cars Awareness Day (6 May) – as it is revealed that the RSPCA’s emergency line in England and Wales received 8,290* reports of animals suffering heat exhaustion last year.
High volumes of calls to the RSPCA come despite members of the public being urged to report emergencies to the Police on 999, as their officers can attend more quickly and have power of entry to locked vehicles.
RSPCA Cymru’s campaign manager Shelley Phillips, said: “It’s a real concern that despite all of our campaigns, many dog owners are still ignoring our warnings and risking their pets’ lives by leaving them alone in cars on warm days.
“That split-second decision – usually made for convenience – could prove fatal for their dog. The fact we continue to receive hundreds of troubling calls in Wales about this every year, with the Police likely receiving many more, highlights what a major animal welfare concern this is in Wales.
“We’re urging the public in Wales to help us spread the message – keep your pets safe in the heat. It’s also vital people remember to not to leave any animal in any vehicle or caravan, or in a conservatory or outbuilding, where temperatures can quickly rise, even when it doesn’t feel that warm outside.
“We saw last year how hot it can get in a vehicle, when an RSPCA staffer locked himself in a car to test the results. In only 23 minutes, the temperature sky-rocketed from 23.3°C to more than 57°C degrees – and the consequences of those temperatures for dogs can be extreme.
“Anyone who sees a dog in distress in a hot car should call 999.”
Dogs can suffer significantly with heat-related conditions when the weather gets warmer. Just a few weeks ago, a terrier puppy was found collapsed in Talbot Green suffering from possible heat stroke. A member of the public found the four-month-old pup on Easter Monday (22 April) when temperatures soared to the mid-20s.
The little dog – nicknamed Ollie – was rushed to a vet and put on a drip and thankfully recovered as RSPCA staff launched a search for his owners – and enquiries are still ongoing.
A quarter (26%) of vets surveyed as part of BVA’s autumn 2018 survey said they’d 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.”
Last year it was announced that electronic roadside signage in Wales will display messages highlighting the dangers of leaving canine companions in hot cars – something RSPCA Cymru hopes will further promote this campaign message across the country.
The charity worked alongside Newport West Assembly Member Jayne Bryant in calling for the introduction of the bespoke messaging on message signs in Wales, and look forward to the signage being in operation this year.
RSPCA Cymru public affairs and media manager Chris O’Brien added: “Displaying these messages on roadside signage in Wales is great news for dogs – and something we anticipate could have a very positive impact on canine welfare, and the public’s understanding of what a potentially serious issue leaving a dog in a warn vehicle can be.
“The Welsh Government has confirmed Variable Messaging signs will accommodate the ‘Dogs Die in Hot Cars’ messaging when signs are not being used for operational purposes – which is fantastic, and a real campaign success for the RSPCA.
“Sadly, we and the Police remain inundated each year with calls about dogs left alone in hot vehicles. Anything that can help change that is hugely welcome.”
Members of the public 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.