Don’t hand a death sentence to your dog

Campaigner Loraine Walker (centre), council dog warden Rachel Thompson and council environmental warden Mike Knight press home the message that leaving dogs in a hot car is a life or death emergency.
Campaigner Loraine Walker (centre), council dog warden Rachel Thompson and council environmental warden Mike Knight press home the message that leaving dogs in a hot car is a life or death emergency.

A campaigner spreading the message that hot cars kill dogs is grateful for support given by South Holland District Council who have allowed her to put up warning posters in their car parks.

Loraine Walker decided to act after two dogs were found distressed in a hot car at Holbeach Town and Country Fayre and heard of three incidents at Tesco in Boston Road, Holbeach.

I suppose the watchword is commonsense. If people are acting sensibly, with the best of intentions, then it is unlikely that someone will be prosecuted.

Police spokesman Dick Holmes

South Holland’s dog warden Rachel Thompson and environmental warden Mike Knight joined Loraine on Friday to spread the message that leaving a dog in a car can rapidly become a life or death emergency.

Rachel said studies have shown the effects of being in a hot car, even for as little as two minutes, can be drastic for any dog – and it’s worse for short-nosed breeds like Boxers, Pugs, Shih Tzus and French Bulldogs as well as long haired breeds who quickly overheat.

“We sweat, we can cool ourselves down,” said Rachel. “Dogs can only pant and that’s not enough when they’re left in a car.”

Animal welfare charity the RSPCA says the temperature in a car can rocket to 47C within an hour when it’s as little as 22C outside.

Rachel said leaving car windows open or parking in shade sometimes isn’t enough to stop dogs dying – and the best advice is for people to leave dogs at home or go out in the car with someone else who can stand with the dog in a shaded place rather than leave the pet alone in the car.

She said owners who leave their dogs in cars face the twin risks of losing them through heatstroke or theft.

Loraine, who lives in Holbeach, said the Tesco manager there has agreed to display warning posters published by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) – and she hopes Tesco and other supermarket chains will roll that out nationally.

The RSPCA say people who break into hot cars to free dogs cars may risk prosecution for criminal damage if they do so “without proper justification”.

Lincolnshire Police are advising members of the public who see dogs in hot cars first to establish whether they are in distress and then try to trace the owner before they call the police on 999.

Spokesman Dick Holmes said if the police were dealing with a serious accident and could not arrive quickly enough, only then – having taken all reasonable steps – should members of the public consider breaking into the car to rescue the dog.

He said: “I suppose the watchword is common sense. If people are acting sensibly, with the best of intentions, then it is unlikely that someone will be prosecuted.”