Leave your dog in the car and we'll call the police, council warns drivers
PARKING wardens in the New Forest who find dogs locked in cars over the summer will call the police and owners could face prosecution in a new drive to prevent pet deaths.
New Forest District Council and welfare charity Dogs Trust have joined forces to warn that just a few minutes in a hot vehicles can prove fatal for dogs.
The Forest area, as well as being home to many dog owners, welcomes thousands of visitors with dogs each summer which is why NFDC car parking staff are stepping up action in the council’s 51 car parks.
Every year animal welfare charities and the police receive thousands of reports of animals left alone in cars on warm days. Leaving a dog in a hot car is deemed animal neglect under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and risks a substantial fine.
If a dog suffers or dies as a result, their owner can be prosecuted for neglect or cruelty. A recent review of the legislation proposes changing the maximum penalty from six months’ jail to five years and/or an unlimited fine.
However, the public are being warned that breaking into a car to release an animal can be considered an act of criminal damage.
Dogs Trust senior campaigns officer Lee Paris said: “Many people still believe that it's OK to leave a dog in a car on a warm day if the windows are left open or they're parked in the shade, but the truth is, it's not.
“A car can become as hot as an oven very quickly, even when it doesn't feel that warm and a dog can die in a hot car in 20 minutes. When it's 22 degrees outside, in a car it can reach an unbearable 47 degrees within the hour.
“We are delighted to be working with NFDC to raise awareness of the dangers and to try and prevent the heartbreak and distress caused when a much loved family pet suffers, or dies, because they have been left in a car on a summer’s day.”
There will also be ‘Dogs Die in Hot Cars’ signs and stickers in car parks and on ticket machines, reminding people to never leave their dog in a car on a warm day.
Cllr Alison Hoare, NFDC’s cabinet member for the environment, said: “We want people to enjoy the summer months with their dogs, safely.
"Nobody ever thinks it’s going to happen to them or their much loved family pet yet every year many people still gamble with their dog’s life by leaving them alone in a car on a warm day.
“Working with Dogs Trust, we are determined to make people aware of the dangers, and if a member of our car parking teams spots a dog in distress, they will call 999 immediately. This will help ensure the dogs can be removed from the car as quickly as possible, in a safe and legal manner.”
Dogs Trust and NFDC advise that if you see a dog in distress in a hot car, call 999 immediately.
Signs of heat stroke in dogs include heavy panting, excessive drooling, vomiting, being drowsy and uncoordinated, and collapsing.
To help a dog in this condition, place them in the shade, pour small amounts of tepid, not cold, water onto their body, help them to drink small amounts of tepid water and, once their breathing has settled, call the nearest vet.
You can find out more about caring for dogs in the hot weather on the Dogs Trust website at www.dogstrust.org.uk/news-events/issues-campaigns/hot-dogs/.