Two weeks ago there was outrage at the Metropolitan police dog handler who forgot he had left his two dogs in the back of an unventilated van for several hours on one of the hottest days of the year whilst he attended a meeting. The dogs consequently died. The terrible suffering that these unfortunate animals endured is unimaginable. One was an adult Belgian Malinois and the other was a five month old German Shepherd puppy.
This has become a high profile case because it involved a police dog handler; someone who should have known better. People were up in arms when this happened because these dogs were supposed to be in the care of an ‘expert’ and if anything good was to come out of this terrible tragedy it should have been the message that ‘dogs die in hot cars’ but people forget very quickly and only last weekend a Yorkshire terrier died from heatstroke in a car parked outside a supermarket in Chippenham. A window had been left open for the dog but it made no difference. Despite the attempts of a passer-by to save the dog, the dog died. The full story can be found here.
According to the RSPCA, if the temperature is 22c (72f) outside, the temperature inside the car will reach 47c (117f) after 60 minutes as the temperature is intensified through the car’s windows/windscreen.
Humans sweat to keep cool. Dogs cannot sweat. Instead, they pant to cool themselves down but if they are in a very hot car they are unable to do this and leaving the windows open an inch or two makes no difference nor does leaving a bowl of water. They need to be able to move into the shade if they start to overheat, but if they are ‘trapped’ in a car they can’t do that. Even in cloudy conditions the inside of the car will reach temperatures which could kill them. Dogs should never be left alone in cars in hot weather – not even for a minute.
Here are a few tips to remember:
- NEVER leave a dog alone in a car in hot weather even if the windows are open and water is provided.
- NEVER ignore a distressed dog. Even if everything turns out to be fine it’s better safe than sorry.
- If you do think that a dog is in distress call the police or R/SSPCA. Personally, I would call the police in the first instance.
- Ask yourself before you set out if it is really necessary to take your dog on the journey. When you reach your destination will you be able to let the dog out of the car or will it have to stay in the car?
The two police dogs aren’t the first dogs to die in a car in hot weather and sadly, I’m sure they won’t be the last. Dogs rely on us to look after them and it’s our duty to ensure that they are kept safe. The inside of a car becomes the equivalent of an oven on a hot day. Dogs can’t open the door and let themselves out or turn on the air conditioning. Instead they have to endure the heat until their owner returns to the car or a passer-by notices them. If that doesn’t happen in time then they will suffer an agonising death. Don’t be the one who has that on your conscience for the rest of your life.
Until the next time,