It’s irresponsible to leave dogs in hot cars

What to do if you find a dog in a hot vehicle this summer.

It’s not cool to leave your dog in a hot car — just keep your pets at home.

That is the message the BC SPCA, the RCMP and the Regional District of the Central Okanagan are sending to both tourists and residents that may be the Kelowna area this summer.

Despite critical warnings to pet owners every year, the BC SPCA continues to be called out to situations of animals in distress left in hot vehicles.

Sean Hogan the BCSPCA Kelowna Branch manager, says the shelter receives hundreds of emergency calls to rescue dogs each summer season.

“Many well-meaning guardians leave their pets in parked vehicles while they run errands, thinking they will be safe for a short period. Tragically, in hot weather their pets can suffer serious heatstroke and die in a matter of minutes.”

The temperature in a parked car, even in the shade with windows partly open, can rapidly reach a level that will seriously harm or even kill a pet. In just minutes, the temperature in a parked car can be over 38 C.

Dogs have no sweat glands, so they cool themselves by panting and by releasing heat through their paws.

On summer days the hot air and upholstery in a vehicle can make it impossible for pets to cool themselves, explains Hogan.

“Dogs can withstand high temperatures for only a very short time – usually just 15 to 20 minutes – before suffering irreparable internal organ and brain damage or death,” he says.

For those who leave their pets in a hot car this summer there will be consequences.

RDCO communications officer Bruce Smith says under the Responsible Dog Ownership bylaw anyone who is found in violation of leaving a dog in an enclosed vehicle without adequate shade or ventilation could be fined $150.

“Last year we had four tickets that were issued at the recommendation of the BC SPCA and two warnings were given,” says Smith.

What to do if you see a dog in distress in a parked vehicle:

  • Note the license plate and vehicle information and ask managers of nearby businesses to page the owner to return to their vehicle immediately;
  • Call to report the hot dog in car situation if no owner is found or when animal is suffering symptoms of heatstroke. During daytime, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., call the Kelowna BC SPCA at 250-861-7722 and in an emergency, call 911 for RCMP attendance.
  • It is illegal for members of the public to break a window to access the vehicle themselves; only RCMP and Special Provincial Constables of the BC SPCA can lawfully enter a vehicle. SPCA branch staff and volunteers cannot enter vehicles.
  • Keep emergency supplies – bottled water, a small bowl, a towel that can be soaked in water- in your car so that you help hydrate an animal (if a window has been left open) while you wait for emergency response

Symptoms of heatstroke in pets:

  • Exaggerated panting (or the sudden stopping of panting)
  • Rapid or erratic pulse
  • Salivation
  • Anxious or staring expression
  • Weakness and muscle tremors
  • Lack of coordination, convulsions
  • Vomiting
  • Collapse

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