Cruel and criminal
RCMP reminds dog owners of heat hazards

by Jennifer Hoegg/Kentville Advertiser Article online since July 10th 2009, 9:12


“Running into a store for ‘just a minute’ can be fatal for a dog in a car.” That’s a blunt warning from Constable Blair MacMurtery to pet owners tempted to leave their dogs in the car this summer.

Kings County RCMP’s community policing officer said this week the force has received a number of calls from concerned citizens about animals in distress.

Concern is well placed, he noted. “The single most frequent cause of heatstroke in dogs is being left in parked cars. We want to make sure animal owners are diligent.”

Cars heat up quickly. On a 27C day, the temperature in a parked car can rise to 49C in as little as 10 minutes. Cloudy days pose a danger, too, MacMurtery points out. Recent humid days have made cars hothouses, despite overcast conditions.

“If you factor in humidity as well as temperature, we’re looking at heatstroke in a short period of time,” he said. An open window is not enough, he added. “Sun and humidity equals heatstroke.”

Heat puts dogs at high risk of injury and death, he said. “Dogs are more susceptible to heatstroke than humans are. Dogs overheat more quickly than humans, too.”

Because dogs sweat only through their paws, they pant to relieve excess heat. Neither process is enough to keep a dog safe in a hot environment.

A dog’s normal temperature is approximately 38C and they are in danger of brain damage, organ failure and death if it rises to 41C.

Criminal offence

Aside from suffering and heartbreak should an animal be injured or expire, leaving a dog in a hot car can lead to jail time. Under the Criminal Code, owners can be charged with willfully causing or permitting unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal or “willful neglect causing damage or injury to animals … while they are being driven or conveyed.” Punishment is up to five years in prison or a fine of up to $10,000.

The message is simple, MacMurtery said: “If you’re going to take your dog in the car and have to leave him in the car, leave your dog at home.

“Why take the risk?” he added. “Their lives are in our hands. They can’t even tell us they’re too hot.”

— Signs of heatstroke in dogs

  • panting
  • staring
  • anxiety
  • warm, dry skin
  • fever
  • refusal to obey commands
  • vomiting
  • rapid heartbeat
  • collapse
  • diarrhea
  • staggering
  • coma

In keeping with the season, earlier this month I put a couple of links on the front door of the homeless pet site. The picture of the dog in the car links back to the source article from the BCSPCA, and the caption beneath links to the best article this middle aged granny has ever found on summer pet safety. There is also a link to, which is a great site with fliers and posters that can be downloaded and printed, including the controversial dog in an oven poster.

What time is it? Its a good time for articles like this to be in the media, because sadly common sense is sometimes a rare thing.

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