As the RSPCA ramped up its Dogs Die in Hot Cars campaign, Essex inspector Marie Hammerton decided to run a little experiment in her van.
“I sat in my van with all the windows open, parked in the shade,” she said. “After 10 minutes, this is the temperature – 38.5C (pictured left).
“I was literally dripping in sweat.
“The temperature outside my car, in the shade, was 28C and within 10 minutes it had climbed to over 38C inside my van – and that was with the windows open while parked in the shade.
“It just goes to show that, had there been a dog shut in the vehicle, it would have become unbearable for him/her very quickly. It also proves that common misconceptions – like the car will be cool enough if windows are open and it’s parked in the shade – make absolutely no difference at all.”
Inspector Hammerton later recorded a temperature of over 40C (pictured below) in her van after she’d been driving around with the windows open so it’s also important to think of how you can keep your pet cool if you’re taking a journey together.
“I had a kitten onboard and had to bring her into a petrol station with me on my break as I wasn’t prepared to leave her in the van, even for two minutes,” inspector Hammerton added. “As our campaign highlights: ‘Not long is too long’.”
A common excuse the RSPCA receives when talking to owners who have left their dogs in cars in warm weather is that they thought it would be okay because they had left the dog with water, with the windows open and had parked in the shade.
The animal welfare charity – which receives more than 8,700 calls a year about animals in hot environments – is working with 11 other organisations and charities to raise awareness of the dangers of leaving animals in hot cars, caravans, conservatories and outbuildings.
If called to a dog in a hot car, RSPCA inspectors have been faced with a host of excuses, including:
“I parked the car in the shade when I got here, I can’t help it if the shade moved.”
“The dog barks when I leave it alone in the house, it annoys the neighbours.”
“We feel bad leaving him at home on his own all day.”
“I’m having an open day to sell my house, the dogs would have been in the way.”
“It’s okay, I’m a vet.”
“It’s not like my dog’s on its own in the car, my kid is with it.” (On this occasion ‘the kid’ was a five-month-old baby strapped into a car seat.)
“We didn’t think we’d be long.”
Earlier this month, the RSPCA teamed up with Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Blue Cross, British Veterinary Association (BVA), Dog’s Trust, The Kennel Club, The Mayhew Animal Home, National Animal Welfare Trust, The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), PDSA, #TeamOtisUK and Wood Green The Animals Charity to launch this year’s ‘Dogs Die in Hot Cars’ campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of leaving dogs – and other pets – in hot environments.