The BC SPCA is reminding pet owners that summer temperatures can be deadly, especially for dogs left in parked vehicles. The non-profit animal welfare society has launched a #NoHotPets campaign to urge dog owners to keep their pets safe at home. The campaign includes information on the dangers of dogs in hot cars, steps to take if you see an animal in distress and free car decals people can request to help spread the word and save lives.
“Every year our constables receive hundreds of calls to rescue dogs in distress in hot vehicles,” says Lorie Chortyk, general manager of communications for the BC SPCA. “Sadly, some dogs have already died by the time we are called. It is so tragic because it is a completely preventable death.”
Chortyk says many dog owners don’t realize how quickly their cars can become a death trap for their pet. “Even on a cloudy day, parked in the shade with the windows rolled down, a vehicle can reach temperatures that put animals in peril in just 10 minutes,” she says. “Dogs can’t release heat from their bodies in the same way that humans can – they can only dissipate heat by panting and through the pads of their paws - so their internal temperatures reach dangerous levels very quickly.”
Chortyk says even leaving the air conditioning on in a car is no guarantee that your pet is safe. “These systems have been known to break down, with tragic results.”
The BC SPCA encourages people to take the following steps in they see an animal in a hot car:
1. Note the license plate, vehicle colour, make and model and ask managers of nearby businesses to page the owner to return to their vehicle immediately.
2. If the animal is in distress, call the police, RCMP, local animal control agency or the BC SPCA call centre at 1-855-622-7722 as soon as possible. The call centre is open seven days a week, Monday to Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM, and Saturdays and Sunday between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM. Emergencies outside of those hours should be reported to your local police department or RCMP.
“We also encourage people to keep our call centre number in their phones so they can access it easily if they see an emergency situation,” says Chortyk. “Members of the public should not attempt to break a window to free a pet themselves. Not only can this be dangerous for the animals if they are struck by glass, but it is also illegal and puts the Good Samaritan on the wrong side of the law.”
To learn more and to order your #NoHotPets decal, please visit spca.bc.ca/nohotpets.
Signs of Heatstroke:
Signs of heatstroke include: exaggerated panting (or the sudden stopping of panting), rapid or erratic pulse, salivation, anxious or staring expression, weakness and muscle tremors, lack of coordination, convulsions or vomiting, and collapse.
If the animal is showing signs of heatstroke and you’re able to safely and lawfully move the animal out of the vehicle, do the following:
• Move the animal to a cool, shady place.
• Wet the animal with cool water. Do not apply ice as this will constrict blood flow and discourage cooling.
• Fan the animal to promote evaporation. This cools the blood, helping to reduce the animal’s core temperature.
• Allow the animal to drink some cool water (or to lick ice cream if no water is available).
• Take the dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible for further treatment.