The BC SPCA is asking pet owners to take a pledge this summer not to leave their animals in vehicles – for any length of time.
Every year the BC SPCA receives nearly 1,000 calls to rescue animals who have been left inside vehicles on hot days.
The No Hot Pets pledge will serve as a reminder to pet owners to keep their pets safe, as well as a warning to others of the dangers of leaving animals in vehicles.
It’s an issue in every single community, said Krista Shaw, manager of the Maple Ridge branch of the animal welfare organization.
“Dogs can pretty much expire in 10 minutes if left in a hot car,” said Shaw, adding that she thinks everybody should take the pledge.
Dr. Aman Preet with Meadowvale Animal Hospital in Pitt Meadows sees a few cases every year of dogs suffering from heatstroke.
If an animal is left in a car accidentally and may be suffering from some form of heatstroke, Preet suggested cooling down the animal by putting water on the paws and on the animals head.
Even spraying rubbing alcohol on the animal’s extremities, especially the paws, will help cool the animal down, noted Preet.
“But it is best to take the pet to the clinic because it could be life threatening,” she added.
Lorie Chortyk, general manager of communications for the BC SPCA, calls the death of a pet left in a hot car a completely preventable tragedy.
“We know that people love their pets and would never knowingly put them in danger, but many pet guardians are just unaware of how quickly their pets can suffer when left in a vehicle in warm weather,” said Chortyk.
“Even parked in the shade, with windows cracked open, the temperatures inside a vehicle can become deadly,” she added.
Dogs don’t sweat like humans, so they can’t release heat from their bodies as quickly, meaning they can succumb to heatstroke and heat exhaustion in a short period of time, noted Chortyk, especially senior pets and those with flatter faces.
Signs of heat stroke, she said, include exaggerated panting, rapid or erratic pulse, salivating, anxious or staring expression, weakness or lack of coordinated, vomiting, convulsions and collapse.
If you see a dog in a car in hot weather, the BC SPCA recommends taking the following steps:
• If the animal is showing clear signs of heatstroke or distress, call your local animal control agency, police, RCMP or the BC SPCA Call Centre at 1.855.622.7722. Do not attempt to break a window to rescue an animal – not only do you risk injuring the animal, but only RCMP, local police and BC SPCA Special Constables have the authority to enter a vehicle lawfully to help an animal.
• If the animal is not in distress, but you are concerned, note the license plate and vehicle description and ask managers of nearby businesses to page the owner to return to their vehicle immediately. You may wish to stay with the vehicle to monitor the situation until the owner returns.
“Even if you are just popping in for a minute to pick something up, even if you think you are only going to be two minutes and you parked in the shade and the windows are cracked, it’s still not appropriate to leave a dog in a car,” added Shaw.
So just leave your pets at home, she said.
To take the pledge go to spca.bc.ca/nohotpets.