What to do if you see a dog locked in a hot car

Promotional image to promote the RSPCA campaign
Promotional image to promote the RSPCA campaign
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Like sunburn and empty freezer shelves at the supermarket, there is one tale of woe that happens every time the mercury rises to the mid 20s.

People get angry about dogs being left in hot cars.

The dog left in the Rover in Sainsburys car park in St Annes

The dog left in the Rover in Sainsburys car park in St Annes

Already this summer Lancashire Police has been forced to intervene after worried members of the public spotted pooches in distress in hot vehicles.

The Gazette reported yesterday how a 75-year-old Preston man was reprimanded by police and reported to the RSPCA after leaving two dogs in his car in Sainsbury’s car park in St Annes while he went for lunch.

READ MORE: Dog locked in hot car ‘close to death’

Passer-by Sophie Scott heard one of the dogs “crying” in distress from a parked Rover, which had windows marginally down and was in the shade.

But police described one of the dogs as “close to death” and managed to wind down one window to free them without having to smash any glass.

The dogs were checked over at Vets4Pets.

But this and other recent incidents has sparked questions as to what the public should do if they come across a similar scene?

It is not illegal to leave dogs in a car – but it is illegal to mistreat or abuse an animal in your care and could lead to a fine or worse, including prison.

What does the law say?

The Criminal Damage Act of 1971 says you have a lawful excuse to commit damage if “at the time of the act or acts alleged to constitute the offence you believed that the person or persons whom you believe to be entitled to consent to the destruction of or damage to the property in question . . . would so consent to it if s/he...had known of the destruction or damage and its circumstances.”

What do the police say?

A spokesman said: “If you can’t spot an owner, do your best to check the dog is OK. Is it responsive? Barking?

“Or is it showing signs of heat stroke (panting, little movement and rapid breathing)

“If you think the dog is in immediate danger, dial 999 and ask for the police.

“Explain to the call handler what you have seen, give them details of the car and describe the situation as best you can.

“The call handler will give you advice at the time.

“As a last resort, you can break the window if it’s absolutely reasonable and necessary to do so. please tell the call handler why you are going to smash the window.

“Be prepared to justify your actions, take names and details of eyewitnesses when appropriate and safe to do so.

“Photographic evidence or videos can be of great assistance.”

What does the RSPCA say?

The RSPCA has no power to break into people’s cars to release stricken dogs - they need police assistance.

Initially call 999 but the RSPCA can also be contacted on a 24-hour cruelty line for advice on 0300 1234 999

What offences could the pet owners be committing?

Under the Animal Welfare Act of 2006, if you leave a dog in a hot car, and the animal is suffering as a result of this, you are causing unnecessary suffering to an animal which is a criminal offence.

Important - Keep a calm head

A spokesman for Lancashire Police added: “Please don’t make threats about people who leave dogs in cars. These could land you in bother, we understand this is a very emotive subject because we dread to think what could happen to the poor pooch involved, however sometimes you may not have all the facts and threats aren’t going to help the situation in any way.”