What to do if you find a dog in a hot car

June 08, 2016

What to do if you find a dog in a hot car

You may have seen the irate posts on Facebook about the guy who left his two dogs in the car in a Kelowna grocery parking lot on the hottest June 6th on record. Well, I was there, and I was as boiling mad as the rest of the people in the parking lot.

I drove to the grocery store shortly after 6pm. On the way, I saw a small white poodley dog running full tilt down the sidewalk on Gordon. I looked for a safe place to pull over and corral the dog, but it was out of sight too quickly. I was concerned that a dog should be loose on such a hot day. Little did I know.

I pulled into the grocery store parking lot a minute later, where a couple of men and a lady were standing with the car next to me. Just as I got out, the driver of the car with a bag full of groceries arrived from the store, and they immediately lit into him. The lady said she had been waiting beside the car for 45 minutes, and that there were two dogs inside the car with closed windows. Can you imagine? In that heat? The men were yelling and berating the owner of the dogs, who said he had only been 5 minutes, and that the dogs were fine. Everything got more heated when the driver realized the men had somehow opened the windows of the car fully to let in air, but damaged the car and frightened one of the dogs away in the process. That explained the small fluffy dog running down the street that I had seen a moment ago. The whole thing was a right old mess, and while they were yelling at each other, the other little dog in the back seat was panting with his tongue out sideways, looking incredibly uncomfortable. Security showed up, the police showed up, and after I suggested they get the dog a little water from the gardening display, I left to get my groceries.

I have no idea how long that man was in the grocery store... But even 5 minutes on a day that hot (it was 36 degrees on the outdoor temperature gauge on my car) is absolutely too long to leave dogs in a parked car. We will leave the police to sort out who was wrong in that particular case, but the experience did leave me reflecting on what I would have done if I had arrived minutes earlier to the store and had seen both dogs in the car.

Would I have broken the windows? I wouldn't have known what to do! Well, likely, based on gut instinct, I would have run inside, done a PA announcement with a 3 minute warning, and proceeded from there. Thankfully, I didn't have to make that decision, but I did wonder what I was allowed to do and what the process actually is. Last week our clinic got a totally separate call from someone who saw the same thing, a dog in a parked closed car midday, and they frantically asked us what they should do. We didn't know!

So today I called our helpful local Kelowna RCMP detachment and asked them what I should do if I came across the situation of a dog in a parked car on a hot day. They told me to first call the BCSPCA, and then to call the RCMP if they weren't available or it is after hours. Then I called our friends at the BCSPA, who reiterated these instructions. They also added that no one is allowed to break into the car except the RCMP, but when they (the BCSPCA) arrive, they will monitor the situation and call the RCMP themselves if they think it's necessary.

So folks, please scribble down these numbers and throw them in your glovebox or program them into your phone, just in case you end up in this situation. Then you
too will know what to do, and who to call:

It's my sincere wish that both those little dogs are ok from that harrowing ordeal on Monday. Let's all work together to continue to educate people about the danger of pets in hot cars, and keep our furry friends safe in this record-breaking weather.

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