Despite repeated warnings, more than 220 dogs left in hot cars in past month

VANCOUVER – Despite repeated warnings and notices put out by the SPCA and the Ministry of Health, among others, staff at the BC SPCA say they have been “inundated with calls this summer” to rescue pets left in parked vehicles.

They have responded to 228 calls of dogs in distress in the past month alone.

As the temperature continues to climb across the province, the SPCA would like to remind everyone that in this weather it is not acceptable to leave your pet in a hot car at all. Leave them at home if you can’t keep them safe.

“The media is wonderful about helping us get the message out that it can be fatal to leave your pet in a hot car, even for 10 minutes, but still we receive hundreds of calls about animals in distress,” says Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the BC SPCA. “We can’t stress strongly enough how dangerous this is for your pet.”

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The Nanaimo RCMP say they have also been inundated with calls since the weather started to get hotter. They have put together a list of what to do if you see an animal left in a hot car as it does not always require a call to the SPCA, RCMP or animal control.

WATCH: BC SPCA recommendations for helping a dog left in a hot car

But the SPCA wants everyone to know just how dangerous it can be to leave a pet in a parked vehicle on a hot day.

“The temperature in a parked car, even in the shade with windows partly open, can rapidly reach a level that will seriously harm or even kill a pet,” says Chortyk. “In just minutes, the temperature in a parked car can climb to well over 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). Dogs have no sweat glands, so they can only cool themselves by panting and by releasing heat through their paws.”

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Dogs can withstand high temperatures for only a very short time, in some cases just minutes, before suffering irreparable brain damage or death.

Police say if a vehicle needs to be broken into and animal control has been called, they will contact a local tow company to open a locked door. Police officers if warranted, can break a window and remove the animal, but this will always be a last resort and only done to save the life of the animal.

Looking for signs of heatstroke in your pet and what to do:

Pet guardians should be alert to heatstroke symptoms, which include: exaggerated panting (or the sudden stopping of panting), rapid or erratic pulse, salivation, anxious or staring expression, weakness and muscle tremors, lack of coordination, convulsions or vomiting, and collapse.

If your dog shows symptoms of heatstroke, you should do the following:

  • Immediately move the animal to a cool, shady place
  • Wet the dog with cool water
  • Fan vigorously to promote evaporation. This will cool the blood, which reduces the animal’s core temperature.
  • Do not apply ice. This constricts blood flow, which will inhibit cooling.
  • Allow the dog to drink some cool water (or to lick ice cream if no water is available)
  • Take the dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible for further treatment.

“If you’re used to letting your dog accompany you on errands, you might feel guilty leaving him behind on hot summer days,” says Chortyk. “But your dog will be much happier, and safer, at home, with shade and plenty of fresh cool water.”


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