COLUMN: What to do if you see a dog in a hot car

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Just last week, an RSPCA inspector sent me a photo of a thermometer in their van - which showed that it was a whopping 45.3c inside the vehicle.

The van had been parked up for just half an hour, and the outside temperature was 21c. It just goes to show how quickly a vehicle can heat up inside, even when temperatures aren’t sweltering outdoors.

This is why, every year, the RSPCA shouts from the rooftops that leaving a dog in a hot car is a big, huge no-no. It can take just minutes for a car to become as hot as an oven. Leaving the windows open an inch would have almost zero impact and a dog would begin to suffer very quickly in this heat. Even leaving your dog for five minutes inside a car in these conditions is too long.

This isn’t a new message but it is one which we try and get out there every year, because sadly we do still get a lot of calls about dogs being in hot cars. In one week last month, we received 700 calls about dogs inside hot vehicles. Put simply, dogs die in hot cars, so don’t leave them in there.

If you see a dog in a car on a warm day, in an emergency dial 999 and report it to the police. The RSPCA may not be able to attend quickly enough and, with no powers of entry, we’d need police assistance at such an incident.

If the situation becomes critical and police can’t attend, many people’s instinct is to break into the car to free the dog. Be aware that, without proper justification, this could be classed as criminal damage. Make sure you tell the police of your intentions and take photos or footage of the dog as well as names and numbers of witnesses.

Once removed from the car, move the dog to a shaded/cool area and douse with cool water. Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water.

You can call our 24-hour emergency cruelty line on 0300 1234 999 for advice but, if a dog is in danger, dialling 999 should always be the first step. For more information visit www.rspca.org.uk/dogsinhotcars