Inspector Alistair Hills, of the RSPCA, is warning North Coast pet owners to never leave pets in vehicles. Even a ute tray gets hot enough to kill a dog, he says.
Inspector Alistair Hills, of the RSPCA, is warning North Coast pet owners to never leave pets in vehicles. Even a ute tray gets hot enough to kill a dog, he says. Jay Cronan

Dogs left in cars die

NORTH Coast people are still leaving their dogs locked in hot cars despite repeated warnings from animal welfare authorities.

RSPCA Inspector Alistair Hills said the society was astonished to still be receiving phone calls in summer about dogs locked in cars.

He believes the recent wet weather might have lured some dog owners into a false sense of security.

“On a cloudy North Coast day like today it might seem safe to leave the dog in the car,” he said.

“But things can go pear-shaped very quickly.

“If you were to duck into the shops for 30 minutes and the sun came out, the car would turn into an oven in no time.”

In the last fortnight the society has received 15 calls from across the State, including five on the North Coast.

Mr Hills said the total number of distressed animals reported could be 10 times that as most calls go to police and council rangers.

“We would’ve thought people might have got the message by now but obviously some need more education,” he said.

Studies show that on hot days temperatures inside a car can reach 80 degrees.

It can still be dangerously hot, even if the windows are left open, and can take as little as six minutes for an animal to die from heat stroke.

Mr Hills demonstrated this with a laser thermometer.

While the air temperature was 32 degrees outside, his vehicle still registered 35 degrees on a cloudy day with the windows down.

“In most situations it’s a case of stupidity or difficult circumstances, rather than cruelty,” he said.

“Like a job I’m going to today. People staying in a motel have left their dog in the car.

“Often these cases are people in a short-term emergency situation who don’t want to leave their dog behind.

“We’ll see if we can work something out for them.

“Our thing is to try to fix the problem rather than prosecute.”

The RSPCA’s NSW chief veterinarian, Magdoline Awad, said heat stroke could occur if pets didn’t have access to shade or water.

“To avoid a cruel death they need to be kept safe, cool and hydrated,” she said.

“Cars left stationary in the sun become ovens.

Ute trays also become extremely hot, so dogs can suffer a similar fate.

“While it’s fantastic that pet owners seek to include their dogs in activities outside of the backyard, during the hotter months rather than taking your dogs with you in the car keep them at home with plenty of shade and water.”

If a dog suffers as a result of being left in a car and the offender is charged the maximum penalty is $5500 and a six-month prison sentence.

If it dies as a result of being left in a car, the maximum penalty is $22,000 with a possible two years in prison.



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