Have you ever witnessed an animal locked in a parked vehicle in the summer? Have you ever left your four-legged companion alone in your car while you run some errands? Every summer, the Montreal SPCA’s Investigations and Inspections Department receives calls concerning animals left in parked vehicles. With the current warm temperatures, the SPCA wishes to remind everyone of the dangers associated with this practice and the actions to take if you witness such a situation.
True or false?
1. If I leave my animal in the car for only a few minutes, it’s not dangerous.
FALSE. Even when the windows are ajar or the vehicle is parked in the shade, the temperature inside a car rises very quickly, and can become very dangerous for the animal. Indeed, unlike humans, dogs have very limited ability to sweat. Thus, when the ambient air warms up, the temperature of the animal’s body can increase very quickly and cause heatstroke, or even death. Since life is filled with many unexpected events, a quick two-minute stop can often take longer and have dramatic consequences. Rather than take the risk, the best option is to leave your pet at home.
2. If I leave the air conditioner on, there’s no danger, as the interior of the car will be cool.
FALSE. Technical malfunctions can happen to anyone. Animals have died in the past due to faulty air conditioning systems that had stopped working. Again, the consequences on the health and life of our animals are too serious to take such a risk.
3. If I see an animal in a parked car on a hot day, I can call the police.
TRUE. If you see an animal left alone in a vehicle in hotweather and you believe he may be in danger, alert nearby businesses to try to locate the owner of the car and call 911. Provide a description of the car (colour, model, plate number and location), as well as all the animal’s symptoms (hyperventilation, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.) so that the officers can judge the severity of the situation. Please remain with the animal until help arrives.
4. If my animal suffers from heatstroke, I should give him an ice bath.
FALSE. It is dangerous to apply ice on the body of an animal suffering from heatstroke. The animal must be brought promptly to a veterinarian for an examination and proper care. During transport, the best way to lower the dog’s body temperature is to apply cool wet towels to hisbody and to fan him in order to facilitate water evaporation. You could also offer the dog water in small quantities.
5. If I leave my animal alone in the car on a hot day, I could face criminal charges.
TRUE. Recently, a Montreal resident was convicted of two counts of animal cruelty following the death of her dog whom she left in the car while grocery shopping on a hot day. The woman could face up to $10,000 in fines, 18-month in prison as well as a lifetime prohibition on animal ownership. To learn more, click here.
In 2011, Amélie Martel got involved with the Montreal SPCA as a volunteer dog walker. During her undergraduate studies at the Université de Montréal’s faculty of law, Amélie also studied animal behavior. Armed with this knowledge, she created and led the SPCA’s Canine Enrichment team. Following the completion of her internship for the Barreau du Québec and several months of practicing as a lawyer, Amélie paired her legal education with her passion for animals by joining the Montreal SPCA’s Investigations and Inspections’ team. She has also adopted two dogs and fostered over a dozen animals since the beginning of her journey at the SPCA. (© Photo : Marilou Photographe)