Thursday, 6 July 2017

10 mins = 2 long

We love cars – you know that. We also love animals. Sometimes, the two go very well together … sometimes, not … 

Hubble & Hattie, our imprint specialising in all things animal, has highlighted some important points about leaving pets in cars in hot weather, over on it's blog. Seeing as we're all about all things automotive, we thought we share some of its wise words with you here …

Not just dogs! This cockatiel nearly came
to an untimely end, left unattended and
without cooling in a local car park
(it was fine in the end).
Days out just aren't the same without our furry friends in-tow. When it's REALLY hot, it's best to leave your pet indoors, where it's shaded and cool (Hubble & Hattie have another brilliant post on just this, here). But, if you do have to take them with you, never EVER leave your pet in a warm vehicle.

Many people believe that leaving a pet in a car on a warm day, is fine, as long as the windows are open, and it's parked in the shade.

Don't be fooled: it's a highly dangerous situation for dogs and other small animals, even when 'normal' temperatures are resumed.

Automotive glass acts like greenhouse glass, trapping heat, and with an external temperature of 22ºC, the heat inside a car can rise to 47ºC within the hour.

On hot days, opening the windows simply won't make enough of a difference in a static vehicle. Dogs pant to cooldown, but heat and humidity make this less effective, and eventually, when the mercury gets to 40ºC, panting stops working. By then, it's likely to be too late.

According to DEFRA (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs), distress and suffering occurs for pets when temperatures go above 25ºC for more than a few minutes.

Just 10 minutes … 

Wind down the window a crack, and pop into the shop for a few moments and Fido will be fine, no? No. Ten minutes is long enough to cause soft tissue and brain damage in dogs.

Just 10 minutes.

Here in Dorset, temperatures recently peaked around 30ºC. Think about that for a moment. In those temperatures, less than ten minutes in a hot car could be enough to cause permanent brain damage, and eventual death.

And it's not just cars: caravans, campers, and mobile homes can reach unbearable temperatures inside on hot days.

Here's Sergeant Harry Tangye, from Devon & Cornwall Constabulary, with some advice for the hotter days …




He looks okay … his tail is wagging!

Heatstroke in dogs is very serious, but there are early warning signs to look for. Heavy panting, barking, whining, and excessive salivation are the first signs. Of course, some dogs bark and whine more than others, but seasoned dog owners can usually spot the signs of distress, even in an unfamiliar dog, and even if a dog appears 'happy' to see you.

In hotter temperatures, these symptoms may only last a few minutes: glassy eyes, and unresponsiveness soon follow. By this time, cells have started to die, and seizures, coma, and death are likely to follow. There is no time to waste.

I'll break the window …

So, what if you do find a dog trapped in a hot car, and it's clearly distressed? Do you smash a window? Break in?

In the UK, only a Local Authority inspector or a Police Constable have the legal power to enter a premises (including vehicles) for the purpose of assisting an animal that is, or is likely to be, suffering.

Any member of the public who breaks into a vehicle, or attempts to, to assist an animal, would be subject to an investigation for the offence of Criminal Damage. It's possible that such an action could be classed as 'reasonable,' depending on the condition of the animal. UK 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.'

But, if Fido is fine, and you cause damage, you'd best get a lawyer!

Who ya gonna call?

The RSPCA seems like the first organisation to contact – BUT, it may not be able to attend quickly enough to help. Just as importantly, the RSPCA do not have powers of entry. Don't ask them to break in: they would be committing an offence, just like you or I.

If you're in a public carpark, such as a supermarket or store, ask the Manager to make a call over the store tannoy, requesting the owner immediately attends to remove or check on the dog.

If the dog is already showing signs of distress, dial 999 and report it to the local police.

Calmly give them as much information as you can: where you are, how long you've been aware of the pet in the car, whether the animal is responsive, showing signs of stress etc, and the car details, along with any efforts you may have already made to contact the owner, or otherwise help.

Once you've alerted the Police, call the RSPCA. Tell them that you've already called the Police, and give them the same info. Let them know what the Police are planning to do, or when they're likely to arrive at the scene.

They won't get here in time!

Sometimes the Police just won't be able to get to you in time to help the animal directly. If you think that it will be too late to save the animal by the time the Police arrive, and there is no other option left, ensure you do the following:

  • Tell the Police of your intentions
  • Take photos or a note of the car and licence plate
  • Take photos or videos of the dog
  • Take names and numbers of any witnesses

Even if you, personally, aren't taking direct action, it's worth doing this should you find yourself in such a situation, and remember …

BE HYPER-CAUTIOUS and HYPER-VIGILANT: DISTRESSED DOGS CAN BE UNPREDICTABLE AND AGGRESSIVE

Try to ensure that a crowd doesn't gather around the car, if possible, and that voices – and tempers – are kept low and calm. 

If the owner returns, and they become agitated, try to stay calm: being argumentative only results in more stress for everyone … including the dog. Tell them that you were concerned for the animal, and engage them: be as civil as you can, and wait for the Police to arrive.

If an animal has been removed from a vehicle, move it to a shaded area. Give it some water if you're able. Soaking a chamois or t-shirt in water, and rubbing this over them can help to cool them, as can fanning them, or spraying water over their coat.

DO NOT GIVE ICE CUBES IN THIS SITUATION; this can cool them too quickly, leading to complications. 

This (ever so slightly) tongue-in-cheek video from PETA offers some sound advice …





There is no law prohibiting the leaving of an animal in a hot vehicle, but there is a law against animal cruelty. In the UK, under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, if an animal becomes ill or dies from being left in a hot car, the person responsible could face six months in custody, and a fine of up to £20,000.

Wondering what it would feel like to be stuck in a hot car on a hot day … why don't you try it? Park-up, and leave the car with the windows open a crack, and see how long you last. Don't forget, you can sweat to cool down – your dog can't, so he'll be feeling it 10 times worse than you. Just look how NFL Arizona Cardinals' player Tyrann Mathieu got on, when he tried to sit-out the heat for PETA … 





We hope you never need the above advice, but, should you come across an animal in distress in a vehicle, you know what to do.

You can keep up with Sgt Tangye on Twitter – @DC_ARVSgt – or on his blog at https://dcarvsgt.wordpress.com, whilst you can head over to the PETA UK website http://www.peta.org.uk