For the first full column of Animal Matters, we felt it would be worth covering a subject relevant to the time of year.
Believe it or not, we are currently in the height of summer ... and if we do get some sunshine again and/or the temperature rises, there is an obvious and visible issue that we all need to be aware of; namely leaving dogs in hot cars.
Within a very short space of time the temperature inside a vehicle (or any other enclosed space such as a locked shed) will become dangerously hot for animals. When it is 20°C outside, it can rise inside to at least double that in a matter of minutes, even if the windows are partially open.
Dogs can only regulate their temperature effectively by panting and need a plentiful supply of fresh air to do so.
Without it, dehydration, sunstroke and even death can result. If your dog is overweight, has a squashed-up face (such as pugs, pekinese etc.) or has a thick and heavy coat, they will generally overheat faster, but no dog is immune.
There really is no safe time period to leave a dog unattended in a car on a sunny day.
Every year the RSPCA and SSPCA receive around 6,000 calls from the public about distressed animals in hot cars.
Each year, unfortunately, a significant number die as a result. As an owner or caregiver to the dog, you can be prosecuted for neglect or cruelty which can lead to a prison sentence, fines and bans on ownership.
As a member of the public you need to safeguard your position – if you do spot an animal in distress in a car, try to do all you can to locate the driver.
If this is not successful, contact the police as an emergency. If they cannot attend, contact the SSPCA on 03000 999 999 to attend.
Do not break in without first speaking to the police about your intention to do so.
As the driver you could be liable if injury or death results, but as a member of the public there are measures you can take to help rescue a dog in distress.
The only way to ensure that your dog is completely safe is not to leave it unattended in the car in hot/sunny conditions. Try to organise things so that they are not accompanying you if this is the case.
Surely nobody would deliberately want to harm their dog, but if we don’t all think this through properly it could be our family’s best friend that pays the price.