Animal advocacy groups warn against the danger of leaving pets in hot vehicles

Claire Belsheim, marketing and fundraising coordinator at London Humane society. Ozioma Ibeto/ 980 CFPL

Members of the London Humane Society and the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) are advising pet owners to leave their animals at home when running errands.

Both organizations receive reports of animals being left unattended in hot vehicles.

“It happens a lot more frequently than it should,” said Claire Belsheim, marketing and fundraising coordinator at the London Humane Society.

Inspector Scott Sylvia with the OSPCA, meanwhile, says the organization received over 1400 calls for dogs left in vehicles last year.

He warns that temperatures inside a car can rise up to 40 to 80 per cent higher in a short period of time, which also increases the body temperature of an animal.

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Animals are in danger once their body temperature goes above 39.6 degrees.

Sylvia says any access to direct sunlight and heat that animals can’t escape from is risky, and some animals have died as a result of heat exhaustion.

He recommends that animals be left at home, where they can find cooler areas to lay down and regulate their own body temperature. If, however, owners do bring their animals in the car, they should be accompanied by another person who will take the animal out of the vehicle and monitor them, Sylvia adds.

The London Humane Society is supporting the OSPCA’s ‘No Hot Pets’ campaign, which addresses the dangers of leaving animals in vulnerable situations and informs people about what to do if they find a pet in a hot car.

People are advised to limit the amount of exposure pets get in the sun as it could pose health issues, including dehydration.

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If owners decide to go outside, they are advised to purchase cooling pads, go swimming or hang out at the beach. Other outdoor precautionary measures include staying in the shade, walking pets on grass and giving animals lots of water.

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Sylvia tells 980 CFPL that Ontarians should be aware of signs of dehydration in dogs, which include excessive panting, agitation, displays of irritability, and panic. He warns that when animals become hotter, their symptoms get worse — symptoms that can  include vomiting.

“The dog may decide to lay on its side [and] not necessary become responsive,” Sylvia said.

“When you start seeing signs like that, you know you are getting into a very very serious situation.”

Dogs loose moisture through panting and the pads on their feet, and could burn them if the roads are too hot.

Owners should make sure pets always have access to fresh clean water and check on their supply every hour.

Anyone who sees an animal in a hot car is advised to record every detail about the vehicle and its location, monitor what is happening to the animal, and call the Ontario SPCA, their local police department or 911.

Authorities recommend that people refrain from removing the animals themselves as it is dangerous.

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