Each year, the BC SPCA receives nearly 1,000 calls to rescue animals who have been left inside vehicles on hot days. “We know that people love their pets and would never knowingly put them in danger, but many pet guardians are just unaware of how quickly their pets can suffer when left in a vehicle in warm weather,” says Lorie Chortyk, general manager of communications for the BC SPCA. “Even parked in the shade, with windows cracked open, the temperatures inside a vehicle can become deadly.”
This month, BC SPCA is calling on all animal lovers to take a No Hot Pets pledge to keep their pets safe this summer and to warn others of the dangers of leaving animals in their vehicles. “The death of a pet left in a hot car is a completely preventable tragedy, and by taking the BC SPCA pledge people can help us raise awareness and save lives,” says Chortyk.
She notes that because dogs don’t “sweat” like humans and can’t release heat from their bodies as quickly, they can succumb to heatstroke and heat exhaustion in a short period of time. “Some dogs, including senior pets and those with flatter faces, experience even more challenges in hot weather.” Signs of heat stroke include exaggerated panting, rapid or erratic pulse, salivating, anxious or staring expression, weakness or lack of coordinated, vomiting, convulsions and collapse.
If you see a dog in a car in hot weather, the BC SPCA recommends taking the following steps:
1. If the animal is showing clear signs of heatstroke or distress, call your local animal control agency, police, RCMP or the BC SPCA Call Centre at 1.855.622.7722. Do not attempt to break a window to rescue an animal – not only do you risk injuring the animal, but only RCMP, local police and BC SPCA Special Constables have the authority to enter a vehicle lawfully to help an animal.
2. If the animal is not in distress, but you are concerned, note the license plate and vehicle description and ask managers of nearby businesses to page the owner to return to their vehicle immediately. You may wish to stay with the vehicle to monitor the situation until the owner returns.
Take the Pledge! Go to spca.bc.ca/nohotpets to take the No Hot Pets pledge and help us save animal lives this summer.