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Scottish SPCA issues warning about dogs in hot cars


By Kirsty Brown

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The Scottish SPCA is urging members of the public to be aware of the dangers of leaving dogs in a car in warm weather.

Scotland’s animal welfare charity receives over 1,000 reports of dogs in hot cars in a typical year.

The guidelines around lockdown have meant there have been very few concerns raised regarding dogs in cars so far this year but when restrictions are lifted, the charity expects to see a rise in calls.

The Scottish SPCA has teamed up with the RSPCA, who operate in England and Wales only, and other animal welfare organisations to issue a UK-wide plea to the public to avoid leaving dogs in vehicles on hot days.

Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “If you imagine being trapped in an oven with a fur coat, it will give you some sense of how a dog can feel inside a hot car.

“It only takes a few minutes for a dog to overheat in a hot vehicle and leaving a window open or a bowl of water simply is not good enough.

"Our message is simple – don’t risk it.

"22 degrees outside can mean 44 degrees inside the car.

“If there is a possibility you might be leaving the dog in the car, even on a warm, cloudy day, just leave your pet at home with plenty of water and adequate ventilation.

"If your pet is outdoors, make sure there is an adequate space with shelter where they can get out of the sun.

“Over the years we have prosecuted people who have allowed dogs to die in hot cars.

"An owner of a dog walking business in Glasgow, Helen Campbell, narrowly escaped jail for leaving eight dogs in a hot van which resulted in the death of two dogs, three being hospitalised and three others left ill.

"This is completely avoidable if everyone uses common sense and doesn’t risk it."

Single adult Labrador sitting in hot car. Photograph courtesy of RSPCA
Single adult Labrador sitting in hot car. Photograph courtesy of RSPCA

The Scottish SPCA has issued some general advice for pet owners to help their animals cope with hot weather, including:

  • Dogs benefit from being walked early in the morning or late at night as pavements can get very hot and burn their paws. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for paws.
  • Cooling bandanas, paddling pools or cold/wet blankets are a great way to help a canine keep cool in the heat.
  • If your pet seems uncomfortable, dipping their feet in to water or spraying a mist of water on to their face can help.

Mike added: “A dog in a hot car is in serious and immediate danger and a member of our team will attend any reports of these as quickly as possible.

"If you witness a dog inside a car on a hot day, contact 999 immediately.”

If a dog is in a critical situation in a car and the police are not in attendance, instinct can be to smash a car window to break the dog out.

This could be classed as criminal damage without proper justification and anyone who does so may have to defend themselves in court.

The law states that someone has a lawful excuse to commit damage if they believe the owner of the property they would damage would consent if they knew the circumstances.

The Scottish SPCA advises anyone who is going to break a dog from a hot car to inform them and Police Scotland first and should always be a last resort.

They advise taking the names and numbers of any witnesses and to take photos and videos of the dog.

Anyone with concerns about the welfare of an animal should contact the Scottish SPCA’s animal helpline on: 03000 999 999.


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