Dogs Left In Parked Cars

Seeing a dog in a parked vehicle on a hot day can create an emotional reaction.  We know dogs suffer heat stroke quickly when inside a warm vehicle, even if the windows are cracked.  It can be tough to know what to do when you come across this kind of situation, and every case is different, but here are some guidelines.

Call the authorities.  Normally the best number to call is 911, especially if it is a hot day and the dog appears in distress.  The police can usually get to the vehicle faster than a bylaw officer.  Ask the dispatcher what the estimated time of arrival is, and indicate the severity of the situation.

Stay with the vehicle and the animal and monitor the dog’s condition.

If there is another person with you, have them go into the store and have the owner paged.

We do not recommend opening the doors or breaking a window as this can lead to a nasty confrontation with the dog’s owner.  However, if the dog is in dire condition, we understand that bystanders may act in good faith to get the dog out of the vehicle.

If the dog’s owner returns and leaves before police, peace officers or bylaw officers arrive, gather the following information:

  • Licence plate number
  • Make, model and colour of the vehicle
  • Time and location of the incident
  • Description of the owner/driver
  • Any other details that might help officers track down the driver

Call our Animal Distress Line at 1-800-455-9003 to report the incident (or the Edmonton or Calgary Humane Societies if the incident is in those cities).  Alberta SPCA Peace Officers will always follow up with the dog’s owner to explain the severity of their actions, and to lay charges under the Animal Protection Act, if warranted.

The following table shows how hot it gets inside a parked vehicle in just a few minutes.  The data comes from a San Francisco State University study and has been converted to Celsius from Fahrenheit.  Note how quickly the temperature rises in the first 10 to 20 minutes.

 

Outside Air Temperature (Celsius)


21

 24

 27

 29

 32

 35

Elapsed Time (minutes)

 

Temperature Inside Vehicle 

 0

 21

 24

 27

 29

 32

 35

 10

 32

 34

 37

 40

 43

 46

 20

 37

 40

 43

 46

 48

 51

 30

 40

 43

 46

 48

 51

 54

 40

 42

 45

 48

 51

 53

 56

 50

 44

 47

 49

 52

 55

 58

 60

 45

 48

 51

 53

 56

 59

 1 hr+

 46

 49

 52

 54

 57

 60

           Courtesy: Dept. of Geosciences, San Francisco State University 

If a dog does go into distress after being left in a vehicle, the owner can be charged under the Animal Protection Act of Alberta. The maximum fine that can be imposed by a judge is $20,000.