Dogs Die In Cars is a well-known fact and what we will look at now is what to do if you happen to find a dog left in a car. Cars can get very hot, even when it is not that sunny outside. For example, a bearable temperature of 22 degrees Celsius can equate to an unbearable 47 degrees Celsius inside a car, within less than an hour. People sometimes think that if the windows are left open or the car is parked in the shade, the dog will be OK, but this is not always the case. Dogs should never be left in vehicles, for any length of time.
Initially, if you see a dog but it’s clearly not a serious situation at that point, try and locate the owner of the vehicle, or maybe if you’re in a supermarket car park then the store could put an announcement over their PA system.
If you see a dog in obvious distress, the RSPCA can possibly help but it may be best to initially dial 999 and ask for the Police, as the RSPCA may not be able to get there in time. Also, the Police have the power to break into the car if necessary.
If the situation is critical and the Police have not arrived, breaking in without justification could be classed as criminal damage and potentially you may need to defend your actions in court. One thing you can do is to call the Police again and tell them that you feel you need to break the window as an emergency, and then at least you have it on record what you are doing and why. Although not a help to the dog in question, the other thing you can do is to take photos and video on your phone and take the details of witnesses to the situation.
The law states that you have a lawful excuse to commit damage if you believe that the owner of the property that you damage would consent if they knew the circumstances (section 5(2)(a) Criminal Damage Act 1971).
If you have to break in, take care which window you break as you do not want to harm the dog by flying glass cutting them. Also, be aware that the dog is already in distress and they may become aggressive or protective of their car, even though you are trying to help them.
Once the dog is free and you are confident, check its health and try and work out how long it has been in the car. If in a car park you may be able to see the time the owner left them with a pay and display ticket in the car window. Keep the dog cool, calm them as best you can and allow them to drink. You can get advice by calling a local vet or the RSPCA.
Finally, the Police can take action but you can also report the incident on the RSPCA cruelty line at any time on 0300 1234 999. However, if the dog is in danger, dialling 999 should always be the first step you take. It is worth looking at the RSPCA website on rspca.org.uk and searching “dogs in hot cars” for some useful additional advice.