Just 10 minutes for an animal in a hot vehicle can result in irreparable brain damage, even with the windows partially rolled down.
“It can also cause kidney failure, liver failure, and is damaging physically and psychologically to an animal to be left outside in the heat,” adds Gaelene Askeland, senior manager BCSPCA Kelowna.
Her best advice is to leave pets at home when it’s hot unless you’re taking them to a place where they can be inside.
“Animals are best being at home where they feel safe and have access to shade, water and food.”
It may go against the instinct to help, but Askeland says if you see an animal in distress in a vehicle, do not break a window to rescue it.
“Breaking glass can harm the animal, it could harm the person who’s doing it and it’s illegal. The best thing to do is call our toll-free helpline (1-855-622-7722). We have folks that are specially trained to triage…and they connect with the appropriate authorities.”
RCMP or an Animal Protection Officer will attend. They are the only individuals authorized to access a vehicle.
If an animal is clearly suffering, Askeland says to call 911 immediately. Depending on the condition of the animal when it’s rescued, it can be apprehended and owners fined.
“The prevention of cruelty act permits our animal protection officers, who are special constables under the law, to do apprehensions if need be,” Askeland explains.
She adds it’s not the preferred course of action as the SPCA would rather educate pet owners. Askeland also says it is not advisable to confront someone who has left an animal in a vehicle in hot weather.
“I’ve seen, and heard of, people who get really angry with people who challenge them on leaving their pets in a vehicle…people are potentially putting themselves at risk.”
Pet owners should also be careful when walking or exercising their animals in extreme temperatures.
“Don’t walk them on pavement or concrete in hot temperatures,” adds Askeland. “ Walk them on grass or have them at the dog beach, but again keep in mind that sand can also be hot.”
She says if your pet must be outside, make sure they always have access to water and food shade and shelter.