Hot vehicles no place for four-legged friends

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By Pat Healey

DARTMOUTH: As the hot summer sun shows its warmth more and more each day, it’s important to take action to avoid unknowingly causing your fur baby or young child hardship by leaving them in your vehicle while running an errand.

Unfortunately, this remains an issue for both the provincial RCMP and N.S. SPCA.

On July 3, RCMP Cpl. Jen Clarke and N.S. SPCA inspector Jo-Anne Landsburg demonstrated outside RCMP headquarters in Dartmouth what a pet—or young child—could face and the resulting outcome outside.

In this case, both emerged from the vehicle saying it was “uncomfortably hot” with temperatures reaching upwards of 47 degrees in just 20 minutes. As the doors on the cruiser were opened, the relief was very easy to see.

“That feels so much better, wow,” exclaimed Cpl. Clarke. “It was uncomfortably hot in here. We’re both soaked.”

Three of the SPCA’s pups that are up for adoption were nearby enjoying the chance to run and get the attention of RCMP officials who came for some playtime, and getting some shade from the sun from a media member.

Cpl. Clarke said the ambient temperature was into the 40s, so it only takes a guess to understand how that would affect a pet.

“With dark coloured seats, you can imagine what that would feel like for a pet or someone left in a vehicle,” she said. “It was really uncomfortably hot.

“I’m really glad to be out, that’s for sure.”

Landsburg said it was an awful experience for her.

“It was really hot,” she told media. “By the 10-minute mark we were all hot and sweaty. It was going down my back.”

She said the things folks can look for to see if the dog is in distress include excessive panting, really red gums – almost purple, tongues hanging out really long, and maybe become lethargic or vomit.

“If you see those particular signs, you’re going to want to contact the authorities right away,” she said.

Cpl. Clarke said police understand people don’t mean any ill will when they get their fur baby and put them in their vehicle with them. She said people can be charged for doing this.

“We understand that for the most part people have the best of intentions when they bring their pet with them,” she said, “however, the best idea when its hot and sunny, the best idea is to leave them home where they’re comfortable.”

The heat had begun to affect Cpl. Clarke.

“By the time I asked to open the door I was starting to get a little panicky, like ‘please let me out it’s too hot,’” said Cpl. Clarke. “I don’t know a lot of people who can be in and out of a store in 20 minutes.”

Both said if you see any animal in a vehicle that appears to be in distress, try to find the owner and call the RCMP. They also advise getting the license plate of the vehicle.


One of the three young pups from the N.S. SPCA who were at a demonstration involving pets not being left in hot vehicles this summer gets quite comfortable in the hat of N.S. RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Jennifer Clarke. (Healey photo)