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With heat wave looming, people are reminded not to leave animals locked in a vehicle

The BC SPCA also wants to remind the public that breaking a car window to remove an animal is illegal and dangerous.
The BC SPCA is reminding the public to not leave pets in the car on a hot day.

It should go without saying, but as temperatures soar into the high 30s over the next few days, people are being reminded not to leave pets in a hot car.

The BC SPCA is warning that leaving pets in a hot vehicle can have life-threatening consequences.

“We hear it all the time, ‘I was just running into the store, I was only gone a few minutes,’ but what many people don’t understand is that even a few minutes can have fatal effects for an animal. Not to mention, even the shortest trips can easily turn into a half an hour or more in the store while your pet suffers in the heat,” says Eileen Drever, with the BC SPCA.

“You might think your pet wants the company of joining you on your errands. Unless you know for sure you can bring them with you into the stores you plan to visit, we encourage you to leave pets at home where the temperature is more controlled, there’s more space and they have easy access to fresh water.”

In 2023, the BC SPCA Animal Helpline received 837 calls about animals in hot cars. So far in 2024, the helpline has already received 257 calls, and that number is expected to rise with the temperatures.

The BC SPCA also wants to remind the public breaking a car window to remove an animal is both illegal and dangerous for the human and the animal.

“Only RCMP, local police, and BC SPCA animal protection officers have the authority to enter a vehicle lawfully to help a pet in distress,” Drever says.

So what should members of the public do if they have concerns about an animal sitting in a potentially hot car?

Take note of the license plate, vehicle colour, make and model and connect with nearby businesses to have the animal owner paged to return to their vehicle immediately.

If the animal is showing signs of distress (exaggerated panting or no panting at all, salivating, an anxious or staring expression, muscle tremors or lack of coordination, convulsions, vomiting, collapse), call your local animal control agency, police department or RCMP, or the BC SPCA Animal Helpline at 1-855-622-7722 as soon as possible.

Remember to relay location information of the car including city and landmarks, especially if the vehicle is located in a busy parking lot, and listen to the instructions of the call takers.

British Columbians who want to go the extra mile to help keep pets safe can sign up to receive a free “No Pets in Hot Cars” decal in the mail.

For more pet safety information visit the BC SPCA’s website.