THOMSON-OKANAGAN - Though summer isn’t even officially here, the unseasonably warm weather in the Interior is already prompting concerned calls about dogs left unattended in cars.
“We’ve had three or four already this morning (May 22) and yesterday we had half a dozen before lunch,” Cam Buksa, spokesman for the Central Okanagan branch of the B.C. SPCA, says.
Buksa says he sees an increased awareness of the danger of leaving a dog or any animal in a car, but the early start to spring seems to have caught some people by surprise.
“Unfortunately, it still happens. People aren’t realizing yet how warm it is. When it’s 40 Celsuis out people are more aware but they don’t think about it when the temperature is the 20s.”
Buksa says the SPCA is the agency to call for 'hot dog' reports, or the RCMP if after regular business hours. While the SPCA may attend the calls, they do not have the authority to enter the vehicle except as a last resort. The exception is the RCMP and the SPCA’s animal protection officers, but Buksa says they are not always readily available.
If an animal were to die in an unattended vehicle, Buksa says charges can be laid under the criminal code or the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals act.
Despite increased awareness, Buksa says many people do not realize how fast a vehicle can heat up, even in the shade, and how quickly a dog can go into extreme distress.
“The temperature can double and triple within minutes. It sounds gross, but they start cooking from the inside out.”
Buksa says hot dog calls can happen anywhere but tend to cluster around commercial and retail centres.
“The hotspots are the the large box stores and businesses. That’s where people think they are just going to be five or ten minutes, but of course, they never are,” he says. “Given the charges you could face, never mind the public condemnation, it’s just not worth it. Either have someone stay in the vehicle or leave them at home."
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