What you should do if you see a dog trapped in a hot car

By now, we should all know leaving a dog in a warm car is a terrible idea – but it’s still happening. The RSPCA were called to 8779 of these cases in 2015 and just last month, during the two hottest days of the year, they attended 106 cases of dogs being trapped in hot cars, caravans and conservatories.

If you do see a dog in distress in a hot car, you should of course take action, but there are advised steps.

  • If the dog is displaying signs of heatstroke (panting, drooling, vomiting), call 999 hot cars infographicimmediately.
  • If the situation is critical and the police can’t attend in time, you might want to break in and provide first aid. If you do this, be careful – if you can’t prove it was justified it could be classed as criminal damage. Ensure you let the police know what you plan to do and why, take photos or video footage of the dog, and get names and numbers of any witnesses.
  • Move the dog to a shady spot, douse them in cool water and give some drinking water.

If the dog isn’t displaying signs of heatstroke, the situation is less urgent, but you should still take action:

  • Try and figure out how long the dog has been in the car.
  • Note the car’s registration, should you wish to report it even if the owner comes back.
  • If you’re somewhere with staff who can make an announcement, get them to do so.
  • Stay with the dog if you can to monitor them – if they do show signs of heatstroke, dial 999.

Dogs can die when left in hot cars – their skin blisters and they suffocate – so it’s very serious. Guidance from the RSPCA is, don’t be afraid to dial 999. You should call the RSPCA’s emergency cruelty line on 0300 1234 999 if you feel you need advice. However, if a dog is ever in immediate danger, dial 999 – you may just save its life.

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