It is that time of year again when police see an increase in calls from concerned citizens about the well-being of animals left unattended in hot vehicles. Leaving a dog in a car in the hot summer sun can be a death sentence for the canine loved one. When it’s 20 degrees outside, the inside of a car with windows closed can climb to over 40 degrees in 20 minutes.
The first recommendation is for pet owners to leave their pet at home. There, pets have access to shade and a water source. Leaving a pet in a vehicle is never a good idea, regardless of how long an owner thinks they may be away. Unforeseen circumstances can keep one away longer than planned.
An animal can be overwhelmed by heat in as little as ten minutes. The temperature in a parked car — even in the shade with partly open windows — can reach a level high enough to seriously harm or even kill a pet.
If you find an animal in a vehicle that appears to be in distress, the RCMP do not recommend smashing the a car window. The appropriate steps are:
- Try to find the owner. Record the vehicle description and license plate number and go to nearby stores and have the owner paged through the PA system if one is available.
- Attempt to provide shade and/or water for the animal.
- Call the District and ask for bylaw enforcement. See bylaw 392 section 48 below. The owner can be fined $100.
- Call the local RCMP. In Sooke, the number is 250-642-5241.
- Stay at the car until the police officer arrives.
Signs of distress in animals
- Exaggerated panting
- Rapid or erratic pulse
- Anxious or staring expression
- Weakness and muscle tremors
- Lack of coordination
- Red or blue tongue and lips
- Convulsions or vomiting
- Collapse or coma
If an animal does not appear to be in distress, do not call police immediately. If an animal is alert, standing upright and barking, they are likely not in distress. If you are concerned about the animal, try to find its owner.
Sooke Bylaw 392
According to the Animal Regulation and Impounding Bylaw No. 394 section 48 (Control of Animals), “No person shall keep any animal confined in an enclosed space, including a motor vehicle, without sufficient ventilation to prevent the animal from suffering discomfort or heat injury.”