B.C. SPCA says prevent pet heartbreak: Don’t leave animals inside hot vehicles

A file photo of a diaper-clad dog seen left alone in a sweltering vehicle in the Sea to Sky gondola parking lot in 2017. The small pet was trapped for more than two hours before a tow trucker driver freed it. Global News

With searing temperatures en route for B.C., the SPCA is reminding people to keep their pets at home — and not in hot vehicles.

Every year, reports abound of people leaving their pets inside a vehicle on a hot day, with strangers, police or bylaw coming to the animal’s rescue.

This year, the SPCA hopes 2021 will be different than in years past.

“We can’t stress strongly enough how dangerous it is to leave your pet in a hot car,” said Lorie Chortyk, general manager of communications for the B.C. SPCA.

Read more: ‘Animals are safer left at home’: What to do if you see a dog in a hot car in Calgary

“Last year, the B.C. SPCA responded to more than 800 calls about animals in distress in hot cars. The temperature in a parked car, even in the shade with windows partially open, can rapidly reach a level that can seriously harm or even kill a pet.”

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“I really want to urge people to leave their pets at home,” added Sean Hogan, the SPCA branch manager in Kelowna, where temperatures could hit 40 C this weekend. “This hot weather is predictable; it happens every year.

“It’s no surprise to you or me, but what is shocking is that people are still bringing their animals with them when they’re doing the errands or what have you.

“And there are so many other options that are way better for your pet, so we want to encourage people to leave their pets at home.”

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Hogan said leaving a pet inside a car for even a few minutes is too long.

“I don’t like the messaging of 10 minutes is too long because two minutes could be too long for some dogs,” he said. “Fifteen minutes might be too long for some dogs.”

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He also said “most people say that they’re just going into a store for just a few minutes and that is just not what happens. We know that no one has the intention of harming their pet, but we are urging people to leave their pets at home.”

The SPCA says pets in hot cars can start showing signs of heat stroke in just a matter of minutes. The organization also said it’s important to learn the sign of pet heat stroke.

“I talk to the veterinarians, I talk to the constables that attend the calls,” said Hogan.

“I deal with some of the most heartbreaking things in the branch and it blows my mind that we are doing this, so it is frustrating but we are going to do this every year because it’s necessary.”

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Hogan also said walking pets on hot pavement or sidewalks can be detrimental to the pads on their feet.

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“We are seeing an increase in calls. We have been for the last few weeks,” said Hogan. “In fact, our constables have been a little bit run-off their feet going from call to call.”

In the Regional District of Central Okanagan, pet owners can be fined $150 for leaving an animal in a hot car.

If you see an animal left in a vehicle on a hot day, the first thing you should do is try and go into the local business and have the owner paged.

Otherwise, you are encouraged to call the B.C. SPCA hotline at 1-855-622-7722 or call the police if the animal looks in distress.

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