After a video of a dog trapped in a hot car in Spain spread across the internet last week, and with the extreme heat that the UK has been experiencing lately, people have begun asking what they should do when they see a dog in a hot car.
In a Facebook post, Thames Valley Police have issued guidance to people on what they should do in such a situation.
Inside the small and insulated space of a car, temperatures can soar rapidly. The RSPCA says that when it is 22 degrees outside, a fairly warm day in the UK, it can reach an unbearable 47 degrees in a car within an hour.
Such high temperatures can be dangerous to humans for extended periods, and they're even more harmful to dogs.
According to the Dogs Trust, it's possible for a dog to die in a hot car in only 20 minutes, meaning it is important to act quickly if you see a dog in danger.
By providing people with information, Thames Valley Police hope to cut the number of needless animal deaths that could occur this summer by pets being left stranded in sweltering cars.
The first step is to call the RSPCA
According to Thames Valley Police, if you see a dog struggling in a hot car, the first thing to do is to call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999, and inform them of the condition of the dog, the car's registration number, and its location. A local dog warden service could also be able to help.
Once you have given them this information, they should send an inspector to deal with the situation and help the stricken animal.
If it is necessary to break into the car, they will call the police.
If it's a life or death situation, call the police
In a desperate situation where a dog is at serious risk of death, call the police and ask how long it would take for them to get there.
If they can come quick enough, they will be able to take action.
If they say they would take too long to arrive, and the RSPCA can't respond quickly, it's up to you to decide to take action, which could involve damaging the car to get the dog out.
Can I get in trouble for breaking into the car?
Naturally, in normal circumstances, it's illegal to smash the window or break into someone's car in another way.
However, if it's a life or death situation, the law could be on your side in certain circumstances.
Section 5(2)(a) of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 says that you have a lawful excuse to cause the damage if at the time of the break-in, "you believed that the person or persons whom you believe to be entitled to consent to the destruction of or damage to the property in question... would so consent to it if s/he... had known the destruction or damage and its circumstances."
Essentially, this means that if you think the dog owner would be happy to have their window broken to save their dog if they knew it was about to die, the law could be on your side if you decide to damage the car.
Thames Valley Police explained that they are not encouraging people to smash windows, but rather providing them with information that could allow them to save an animal's life if they needed to.
What other measures do I need to take?
While it's not necessary to keep you out of trouble, getting witnesses and taking pictures/videos of the dog and the attempt to get it out can provide police with evidence that you had a good reason to damage the car.
12 best dog accessories for summer
12 best dog accessories for summer
1/12 Billy + Margot Iced Treats for Dogs
Particularly refreshing after a warm walk, these nutritious treats you keep in the freezer are free from dairy and nasties such as artificial colourants and sweeteners, and come packed with pure fruit, coconut oil and flaxseed oil. Take your pick from three flavours: strawberry and apple, honey and banana, and apple, banana and carrot. £2.99, ocado.com
2/12 Petkin Sunscreen Wipes
Dogs can suffer in the sun too too. Those with white skin, especially on their ears, are prone to burning – and they can get skin cancer. These doggy-friendly wipes compare to the protection given by SPF 15-rated sunscreens for people. They are non-greasy, non-sticky and offer quick, minimum fuss sun protection for your dog. Also available in a stick and a spray format. £6.17, amazon.co.uk
3/12 Phileas Dogg’s Guide to Dog Friendly Holidays in Britain
Written by dogs, for dogs - including Barkarama’s very own pup Basil – this book is an indispensable guide to dog-friendly holidays in the UK, highlighting the best canine-compatible days out, beaches, hotels, pubs, campsites, cottages and even windmills. Featuring over 300 destinations, each review gives the dogs-eye view of important aspects of a holiday such as best walks, prime locations for tasty sausages and handy locations for an after-dark tinkle. Don’t plan your next adventure without it. £9.01, play.com
4/12 Daisy Print Dog Neckerchief
If your dog is a bit of a character, they'll suit this neckerchief by East London designer Edwyn UK. Made from cotton and linen, there are five styles to choose from. It simply threads through your dog’s collar and they're good to go. If it gets a bit grubby, you can put it in the washing machine. From £10, notonthehighstreet.com
5/12 Rosewood Hi Travel First Aid Kit
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail is our motto when it comes to travelling with your dog, so get equipped with this handy travel first aid kit for dogs. Packed with essentials to aid and comfort your dog should they become injured on the go, the kit includes items such as a saline pods, dressing pads, a foil blanket, tweezers and cleansing wipes. Invest and store in the car boot in case of emergency at home or away. £11.87, monsterpetsupplies.co.uk
6/12 Float My Boat Buoy Dog Toy
For the dog that loves to splash around, this will send them into a tailspin. Made of durable, non-toxic rubber with a sturdy rope handle, the toy is designed to float in the water. Simply throw and watch him doggy-paddle towards his prize. Available in three colour ways. £12, freepeople.co.uk
7/12 Long Paws Pet Water Bottle
Dogs are unable to cool down as effectively as humans so can suffer from heat stroke and dehydration quickly. For essential hydration on the go, we love the clever design of this bottle; water is released as your dog licks the stainless steel ball topper. The bottle also features a leak-resistant cap and a handy clip so you can keep it safe. £12.20, amazon.co.uk
8/12 ThrowBall Frisbee Water Bowl
As the product name goes, the ThrowBall Frisbee Water Bowl is a soft-bowl for essential H2O and a flying disc for fun in one. Genius! Whether it’s for walks or travel, this dual-function product soars like an Eagle and is splash proof when in use, and packs away easily and compactly when it’s time to go. What more could you want from a pet product? £15.99, petspyjamas.com
9/12 Hurtta Motivation Cooling Vest
When the sun is blazing, this sporty number offers cooling relief for your dog. Soak the vest in cool water, slip on your dog and leave it to cool their heart and lungs, which in turn cools the blood temperature around their body. A great buy for the active dog, and those of the squishy-face variety, who suffer in the heat. Available in sizes XXS to XXL. From £24.99, activehound.co.uk
10/12 Striped Pet Tipi
We’re barking for this hip hound hideaway, which gives your dog a cosy and place to sleep at home, outdoors or on their travels. Just one of Pup Tart Handmade’s unique styles, this one is easy to assemble, comes complete with a handmade pom pom garland and can be monogrammed on request. Add their bed or their favourite blanket and their own little doggy den is complete. £54, notonthehighstreet.com
11/12 Maxi Dog Travel Bag
Designed to house your dog’s ‘everything’, this is the canine equivalent to a baby or overnight bag. With a roomy central compartment and six external pockets, the Maxi is great for keeping items separate, organised and to hand so you’ll never to rummage for their favourite toy or poop bags again. Available in three neutral designs, we keep ours hanging in the hallway so we’re always ready for action. £85, poppyandrufus.co.uk
12/12 Cloud 7 Travel Bed
With its chic and simple design, this offers dogs stylish, comfortable sleep on the go. Made with a hemp and recycled yarn outer, perfectly padded and with a cute stitched motive, lay out the bed wherever your travels finds you and let your dog enjoy his nap. When not in use, it folds neatly into an easy to carry bag. From £89, amara.com
Will the owner get in trouble for leaving their dog in the car?
Possibly. It's not an offence to leave a dog unattended in a car - when the temperature is appropriate, the animal will probably not be in danger if it is left for an appropriate amount of time.
However, under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, the maximum penalty for neglect or cruelty to animals is 51 weeks imprisonment, and/or a fine not exceeding £20,000.
It would be up for the courts to decide what penalty the owner would receive if they were charged.Reuse content