THE RSPCA has dealt with more than 200 incidents of dogs being left in hot cars in just one week by irresponsible owners who risked literally cooking their pets alive.
Between Monday 26 June and Sunday 2 July, the RSPCA dealt with 222 incidents where dogs had been left behind in vehicles. Almost half of these incidents were reported over the weekend of Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 July.
Tragically, a dog died in a car at Europe's biggest Agricultural Show that weekend. RSPCA officers and the police broke into a BMW at The Royal Show at the National Agricultural Centre, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, but sadly the whippet had already died. The heat in the car was more than 47°C. Three terrier-type dogs also had to be removed from a van suffering from overheating - the RSPCA is investigating both incidents.
Around the country, many dogs were left behind without water and were seen barking, and thrashing around in desperate attempts to escape from vehicles.
RSPCA chief veterinary officer Steve Cheetham said: ‘A dog left in a warm car, conservatory, greenhouse, caravan or shed will quickly begin to suffer from heatstroke and can die an agonising death. On a warm day these places can resemble an oven and each year dogs left alone like this die after literally being cooked alive.
People must realise there is no safe way to leave a dog like this in warm weather. Even when the weather is not particularly hot, dogs can suffer from heatstroke as up to 90 per cent of their body is covered in hair. Leaving windows open and a bowl of water is not enough.’
The RSPCA issued these warnings to dog owners.
On a warm day the temperature inside a car can quickly soar to 49°C/120°F or even higher.
If an animal in a car is panting for breath it may be on its way to suffering heatstroke.
Heatstroke can kill an animal very quickly.
Even if you park your car in the shade, the position of the sun will change.
Leaving windows open or putting a bowl of water in the car does not help.
If a dog becomes overheated, give it a shower immediately or bathe it in cool water. Call a vet as soon as possible, as once the dog goes into shock and loses consciousness it may be too late.
Owners who put animals at risk in this way could face prosecution.
Animals can also suffer from sunburn, particularly white dogs and cats. Owners should cover any white extremities, especially ear tips, with the highest possible factor sun cream at least once a day and before the animal goes outside.
Anyone found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal under the 1911 Protection of Animals Act faces up to a £5,000 fine and/or six months in prison. Owners can also be banned from keeping animals, possibly for life.