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There’s a dog in a hot vehicle! What should I do?

Thursday, June 18th 2020, 6:00 am - You hear it all the time: 'Don't leave pets in hot cars!'. Here's what you should do if you happen to see one.

It’s an intense summer scene. Officers smashing a window in order to get an overheated animal to safety. It does not take much for a vehicle to heat to 50°C+ in the summertime. Many are surprised to know this can happen even when daytime highs are only in the mid-20s.

Even with growing awareness, Canadians are still leaving animals in hot cars. In 2019, Animal Protection Officers with the Saskatoon SPCA responded to record-breaking 194 calls. Some of their officers measured temperatures up to 60°C inside the car.

SPCAs across Canada receive hundreds of reports of pets being left in cars each year. That is why it is important to know what the proper protocol is if the owner cannot be quickly located.

Visit our Complete Guide to Summer 2020 for an in-depth look at the Summer Forecast, tips to plan for it and much more

WHAT ACTIONS TO TAKE

If you are confronted with this issue, “do not enter the vehicle,” says Sgt. Ryan Snow of Halton Regional Police Traffic Services.

This may be your first reaction, however, it is technically illegal to break into a car whether it be smashing a window or playing with the lock.

“Instead, call 911 and answer the call takers questions,” explains Snow.

UGC: Dog in hot car: Sunny - rachel's pup, UGC

Depending on where you are in Canada, the suggested number to call will vary (you can find those numbers further down in this article). Many times, police and animal welfare officers will work in unison to see who can get to the scene first.

Under no circumstance should pets be left in hot cars. Cracking windows, short periods of time, relatively mild days, leaving water, or running the air conditioner do not make a parked car a safe place for a pet to be alone.

INFORMATION YOU’LL NEED FOR THE CALL TAKER

It is important to have vital information on-hand. You should be able to confirm the following:

  • Exact location of vehicle
  • License plate information
  • Colour and make of vehicle
  • Condition of the animal
  • Is the vehicle in the sun or shade?
  • Are windows up or down?
  • Is there water in the vehicle for the animal?

The conversation continues each summer as to how Canadians can be better informed of the dangers. Different laws have been proposed to help create clarity in these types of situations.

For example, Ontario recently passed the PAWS ACT, which authorizes police, First Nations constables and animal welfare inspectors to enter a vehicle to relieve animals in critical distress.

Animal experts say your pet is much better off at home in a cool area with access to water if you're leaving for a short period of time.

WATCH BELOW: HERE'S HOW FAST YOUR CAR CAN HEAT UP IN SUMMER

LIST OF WHO YOU SHOULD CALL

BRITISH COLUMBIA

  • 911 or RCMP
  • B.C. SPCA Animal Distress Line: 1-855-622-7722

ALBERTA

SASKATCHEWAN

  • Animal Protection Services of Saskatchewan: 1-844-382-0002
  • Regina Humane Society (if in Regina): 306-543-6363
  • Saskatoon SPCA (if in Saskatoon): 306-374-7387
  • Calling 911 also is recommended in Regina as the police service will notify animal protection officers.

MANITOBA

ONTARIO

QUEBEC

NEW BRUNSWICK

  • 911 or NBSPCA: 1 (877) 722-1522

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

NOVA SCOTIA

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

  • 911 or Royal Newfoundland Constabulary
  • If in St. Johns: 1-709-729-8000
  • If in Labrador City: 1-709-944-7602
  • If in Mount Pearl: 1-709-729-8175
  • If in Churchill Falls: 1-709-925-3524
  • If in Cornerbrook: 1-709-637-4100
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