Warning not to leave dogs in cars as bank holiday set to be a scorcher in Northumberland

Don't leave pets in cars in hot weather.
Don't leave pets in cars in hot weather.

The RSPCA is warning dog owners never to leave their pets unattended in parked cars as Bank Holiday Monday is set to be the hottest on record.

And Northumbria Police have already taken calls about dogs being left in cars with the windows closed.

RSPCA warning logo

RSPCA warning logo

They tweeted this morning: 'It's a hot day out there. Please remember to leave sufficient water and fresh air for your pets in this weather and keep your pooch cool if they have to be left in the vehicle.'

The warning comes as the RSPCA revealed that it received 41 calls about animals in hot environments in Northumberland last year.

The animal welfare group is bracing itself for a surge in emergency calls about dogs shut inside hot cars as a second mini-heatwave is forecast to hit England over this bank holiday weekend.

Last year, calls to the charity about dogs overheating reached nearly 8,000 and last month’s mini heatwave saw the RSPCA’s emergency hotline receive 241 calls in six days, 105 of which on just one day (April 19) as temperatures soared.

The bank holiday is also Dogs Die in Hot Cars Awareness day. The RSPCA leads a coalition of other groups and organisations in its annual campaign during the summer months, raising awareness of the dangers associated with leaving pets in cars, caravans, conservatories and outbuildings during hot, summer weather.

The British Parking Association is the latest member to join the campaign which also has the support of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Blue Cross, British Veterinary Association (BVA), Dogs Trust, The Kennel Club, Mayhew, National Animal Welfare Trust, The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), PDSA, RSPCA, TeamOtis-UK and Wood Green The Animals Charity.

In 2016, the RSPCA’s emergency hotline received 7,187 calls about animals in hot environments. The charity was pleased to see a drop in the number of calls (8,779 in 2015) which suggested fewer people were leaving dogs in potentially fatal situations or that more people were taking on board the group’s main advice to dial 999 instead.

But the organisations has worryingly seen another spike in the number of calls coming through to it’s 24-hour emergency hotline - as reports rose again last year (2017) to 7,876* - the majority of which were regarding dogs.

RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Hens said: “It’s really concerning to see that the number of calls about this issue actually rose last year when it had been steadily falling over previous years. We had hoped that the message was finally getting through but, sadly, it seems that this may not be the case.

“It’s so dangerous to leave your pet inside any hot environment whether it be a car, a conservatory or even a caravan. The temperature inside a car can soar to 47°C (117°F) within minutes, even when the outside temperature is just 22°C (72°F) and this can be fatal for a dog.

“Opening a window, parking in the shade or leaving a bowl of water for your dog isn’t enough and still leaves dogs in serious danger of suffering from heatstroke. And popping into the shop for five minutes is long enough for your dog to be affected.

“Dogs are covered in fur and do not sweat in the same way as humans do. Unlike humans, dogs pant to help keep themselves cool. The effectiveness of panting is reduced at high temperatures and humidities. Cars heat up very rapidly in hot – or even warm – weather. Air-conditioning can disguise the danger that a dog will face once the engine is turned off.

“We would simply ask dog owners never to leave their pet unattended in a parked or stationary vehicle and, if the weather is warm, to leave them at home where they can access cool, shady parts of the house and lots of water.”

WHAT TO DO IF YOU SEE A DOG IN A CAR ON A HOT DAY

In an emergency, it is best to dial 999 and report a dog in a hot car to police. The RSPCA may not be able to attend quickly enough and, with no powers of entry, we’d need police assistance at such an incident.

If the animal is displaying any sign of heatstroke - such as panting heavily, drooling excessively, is lethargic or uncoordinated, or collapsed and vomiting - call 999 immediately.

If the situation becomes critical and police can’t attend, many people’s instinct is to break into the car to free the dog. But please be aware that, without proper justification, this could be classed as criminal damage. 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. The law states that you have a lawful excuse to commit damage if you believe that the owner of the property that you damage would consent to the damage if they knew the circumstances.

Once removed from the car, move the dog to a shaded/cool area and pour small amounts of cool water over their body. Don’t use cold water as this could put your pet into shock. Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water. Once the dog is cool take him the to nearest vet as a matter of urgency.

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.

For more information on what to do if you see a dog in a hot car, please visit the RSPCA website: https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/dogs/health/dogsinhotcars.

COUNTY BREAKDOWN OF LAST YEAR'S CALLS ABOUT ANIMALS IN HOT ENVIRONMENTS

Bedfordshire - 86

Berkshire - 124

Bristol - 83

Buckinghamshire - 104

Cambridgeshire - 146

Cheshire - 131

Cornwall - 115

Cumbria - 81

Derbyshire - 175

Devon - 258

Dorset - 149

Durham - 118

East Yorkshire - 109

East Sussex - 168

Essex - 267

Gloucestershire - 149

Greater London - 626

Greater Manchester - 244

Hampshire - 387

Herefordshire - 24

Hertfordshire - 140

Isle of Wight - 40

Kent - 273

Lancashire - 173

Leicestershire - 96

Lincolnshire - 171

Merseyside - 121

Norfolk - 170

North Yorkshire - 153

Northamptonshire - 103

Northumberland - 41

Nottinghamshire - 100

Oxfordshire - 104

Rutland - 6

Shropshire - 61

Somerset - 236

South Yorkshire - 163

Staffordshire - 129

Suffolk - 154

Surrey - 246

Tyne & Wear - 93

Warwickshire - 67

West Midlands - 198

West Sussex - 170

West Yorkshire - 223

Wiltshire - 103

Worcestershire - 93

Wales - 497