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Pets still being locked in hot vehicles, Maple Ridge SPCA

The Maple Ridge branch of the SPCA received numerous calls over the weekend about animals being trapped in hot vehicles.
Staff at the Shaughnessy Veterinary Hospital in Port Coquitlam posted this photo on Facebook on July 28 with the message, “We are heart broken. Such a preventable disaster. Dog left in the car today. Dead. Family is distraught. Please please stop doing this people!!” In a separate message on Facebook they wrote, “Friends, this was posted as a reminder that this CAN HAPPEN - to anyone. They are not “bad” pet people. Take it to heart, remember this, and NEVER let it happen to you. Be careful when you cast stones.” Contributed

People are continuing to leave their pets in hot cars across Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

This past weekend there were 10 to 15 calls made to the Maple Ridge branch of the SPCA about dogs left behind in vehicles.

That is not a bad number of complaints for a weekend where the temperature hovered between 26 and 27 degrees Celsius, said Jenn Stack, manager of the local animal shelter on Jackson Road.

In the past they have had up to 30 to 40 calls in one weekend.

Stack said the weekend before last that’s all staff did at the animal shelter, was constantly run out to help animals potentially trapped in vehicles.

This past weekend all of the vehicles were gone by the time animal protection officers arrived on the scene, and that is typically what ends up happening in 90 per cent of the cases.

“In this whole year there has only been actually one person when we had to call the police and the police came and got the dog out.,” said Stack and that was around a month ago.

When a call is made to the Maple Ridge SPCA the person is immediately referred to the animal cruelty hotline, who in turn notifies the local branch.

“We’re really trying to educate people about calling the cruelty hotline because they are trying to get their numbers together and then hopefully we can enforce some sort of law eventually,” said Stack.

Then an animal welfare officer is dispatched to the vehicle’s location where they assess the situation.

If the animal in the car is not in distress and the windows are down a bit, the animal protection officer will go to the closest shops with the make and model of car to locate the owner.

Stack thinks the reason why the amount of reported incidents is declining could be because the public are more willing to call the SPCA immediately when they see a trapped animal or the public shaming videos that are popping up on Facebook.

“I think maybe that is more of a deterrent than what we are necessarily saying,” she said.

During the first seven months of 2017 the BC SPCA had 591 calls to rescue pets in overheating cars and spokesperson Lorie Chortyk said the numbers are up this year, especially with the onslaught of hot weather being experienced across the province.

In general people should be cognizant of their pets in the hot weather.

Especially brachycephalic breeds of dogs or dogs that have pushed in faces like pugs or bulldogs.

“They are not able to breathe as efficiently as other dogs can,” explained Stack.

“They don’t have the capacity because of how we bred them to be able to do proper air exchange to cool themselves down,” she continued.

Dogs like that should not be walked during the hottest periods of the day and should be offered a cooler space with cold water.

“Even if people think I am only going to go for a short walk, these dogs when it’s hot out, that’s like us exercising in a sauna,” Stack said.

With the current air quality warnings pet owners should also be mindful of older dogs and cats that have breathing issues like asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, COPD.

“We don’t necessarily want to go out there,” said Stack of pet owners.

“You just wouldn’t want them to be out there.”

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Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

Colleen Flanagan is an award-winning multimedia journalist with more than 15 years experience in the industry.
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