40 dogs rescued from cars in past year with Canberrans warned dogs can die in six minutes

Glynis Quinlan 9 November 2018 17
Dog terrier is behind the glass car

The NRMA said it was called out to help 40 pets who were locked in cars in the ACT between November last year and October this year.

Forty dogs had to be rescued from cars in Canberra in the past 12 months with the NRMA and the RSPCA warning people that the consequences can be fatal, particularly as the weather hots up.

RSPCA ACT warns that it can take as little as six minutes for a dog to die in a hot car with even mild temperatures tending to skyrocket inside when a car is left locked up.

The NRMA says that it will “drop everything” to respond to calls about animals being left in cars because of the “grave danger involved”.

Both organisations stress that the risk of leaving animals in cars even for a short time is too high and people should avoid doing it altogether.

NRMA spokesperson Rebecca Page told Region Media that people often focus on the dangers of leaving children locked in cars but it’s important to also be aware that it can be potentially fatal for pets.

Ms Page said that the main places people tend to leave dogs in cars include service stations, shopping centre car-parks, hospitality venues and outside neighbourhood shops, pubs and clubs.

“It’s never okay to leave an animal locked in a vehicle no matter how quick you think you’ll be or how much air you think there may be,” said Ms Page.

“Once you’ve got that vehicle closed the temperature can tend to skyrocket.”

Ms Page said that sometimes people are just leaving their dog in the car while they pay for petrol but get back to find the car has self-locked.

“The best way to avoid danger is to take the pet with you. If you can’t do that then leave it at home,” she said.

RSPCA ACT CEO Michelle Robertson said that often Canberrans don’t understand the risks but they are very high.

“If you leave a dog in a car on a 30-degree day the temperature inside the car is about 54 degrees,” Ms Robertson said.

“It can take only six minutes for an animal to die from heat stroke.

“We are starting to get into the summer months and temperatures can really soar in the ACT. If you take that, along with the six minutes, the best thing is to simply not leave your dogs unattended in a car.”

Ms Robertson said that dogs can’t sweat and so if they are in distress they will display excessive and relentless panting, drooling, salivation and restlessness.

“If you’re a concerned citizen and you see an animal that looks like it is in distress just take action immediately because every minute counts.”

The RSPCA said the best thing to do is to simply not leave your dogs unattended in a car. Photo: Supplied by RSPCA ACT.

Ms Robertson said that if the doors aren’t locked then let the dog out but If they are locked then try to find the owner as quickly as possible. For example, if it is a shopping centre car-park then take down the registration number and alert centre management who can put a call out.

“If that’s not possible then phone the police or phone the NRMA,” she said.

According to the NRMA, you do not need to be a Member to call the NRMA on 13 11 11 to have a dog rescued from a car and these calls are given priority because of the danger involved.

You can also contact the emergency services on 000 if you think the situation is life-threatening and they may break a window themselves or liaise directly with the NRMA to assist.

The NRMA said that there are specific offences which apply to locking dogs in cars which can lead to fines and prison sentences. For more information please click here.

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17 Responses to 40 dogs rescued from cars in past year with Canberrans warned dogs can die in six minutes
lynehamovaluser lynehamovaluser 7:54 pm 28 Dec 19

I can’t leave my dog at home, neighbours have both physically attacked the dog because he barked. I can take the dog in to most places, on my lap, in my wheelchair but sometimes I can’t. Then, the dog is left in the car, in the shade, with windows down, enough for air, but not enough for escape, a bowl of water is left with him. I never take longer than 20 minutes and I worry the whole time. If the temperature’s very high I just don’t go out anyway. European dog owners have a much better system and don’t have the high temperatures we have. They probably have to worry about keeping them warm if they leave them, but they don’t have to leave them, so dogs get the heating. Why not the air conditioning here?

Amanda Jane Amanda Jane 6:55 pm 12 Nov 18

They're probably the dogs that drive the neighbours nuts with their barking when no-one is home so they take them to keep them from being impounded. In other words people that dont care enough to train them or keep them happy and content.

Debbie Lizars Debbie Lizars 11:35 am 11 Nov 18

Dogs go missing when tethered outside of supermarkets. On the cooler days the sun warms the car up quickly. Try sitting in the car yourself with your winter coat on and see how unbearable it gets. Don’t leave dogs in cars leave them at home. Plus check the road before you walk your dog. Hot road means burnt paws.

Rachelle McDonald Rachelle McDonald 9:32 am 11 Nov 18

The weather has really been "hotting" up lately. Stay safe out there.

Louise Flood Louise Flood 8:48 am 11 Nov 18

I take my dogs sometimes and they LOVE to ride with me in the car and I. love their company. BUT. If I leave them it is in the shade in milder weather and the windows are down enough to get air and I leave it unlocked in case something happens to me. Of course the risk is people who lack judgement about real risk and take a dog out or smash a window just because the dogs are in the car. I also risk them being stolen these days. I wish we could go back t my childhood when dogs were a part of every community, and no one got bitten and no kids were unsafe with their posse of dogs.

    Jackie Fuller Jackie Fuller 3:39 pm 11 Nov 18

    Louise Flood kids have been bitten by dogs forever lol

    Louise Flood Louise Flood 5:44 pm 11 Nov 18

    Actually no. When dogs were out and about they were well socialised we did not hear of the attacks we do now with dogs that become highly territorial and as a kid I was always accompanied by kids and dogs without incident. Much rarer back then.

    Greg Hawkins Greg Hawkins 6:02 pm 11 Nov 18

    Louise Flood I was attacked when I was 14 walking down the road by a dog that jumped a fence. Also, where I grew up there was a family that bred German Shepards, all kept in cages in the backyard. When they would escape they would come over to our house looking for our Labrador to attack. Love dogs, have had plenty over the years, unfortunately just like having kids you don't have to prove that you are responsible enough to take on the responsibility.

    Louise Flood Louise Flood 6:11 pm 11 Nov 18

    Totally agree Greg Hawkins. but the incidence of dog attacks has escalated due to lack of socialisation. Back in the day there were aggressive dogs and all the fault of the owners. And the key in your case is probably that the dog jumped the fence. When they are isolated they get territorial. And in that case they should have high fencesThat said, it would be good if owners and citizens knew how to train their dogs and socialise them and to be responsible. As an owner who does take this seriously, I am frustrated at the way so many people demonise dogs and won't let them be a part of daily life. In Europe it is very different and dogs are allowed on public transport and in public with little problem. Web had 2 German Shepherds in our street when I was a Kid and they were obviously aggressive but also locked up. Everyone knew them and read the language. My problem is tarring all dogs with the brush of aggressive and all owners as irresponsible. It makes me sad I can't take my dogs out without people being afraid of well trained and gentle souls.

Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 8:10 am 11 Nov 18

"Ms Page said that sometimes people are just leaving their dog in the car while they pay for petrol but get back to find the car has self-locked."

Who leaves their keys in the car when they go pay for their petrol?!

I appreciate the aim of these warnings but no one is served by exaggerating. If my teenager can sit in the car while I duck into the servo or the shops on our way home on a mild day, then so can my dogs.

And how about the RSPCA ask to have ACT laws changed that say you are not allowed to leave your dog tethered anywhere unsupervised for any length of time? Not even the 30 seconds it takes to pay for petrol.

And telling people to leave their dogs at home instead is also a terrible idea in a town where half of the dogs are treated like backyard ornaments.

    Aries Tyrrell Aries Tyrrell 8:32 am 11 Nov 18

    Your teenager can get themselves out of the car should they get warm; your dog cannot. I agree with the duck into to pay for petrol but need to be mindful where do people draw lines that result in life and death for defenceless people and animals left in cars?

    Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 9:04 am 11 Nov 18

    Most people can excercise common sense in those situations. For those that can't, it would be better to give some clear guidelines instead of blanket and simply untrue "it's never safe" statements. I have my own rules regarding when I leave my dog in the car when I duck into a shop or when I take her out and (illegally) tether her in the shade outside for a few minutes.

    And most of the time it's just because people are too time poor to drive home first to drop off the dog and then drive back to the shop. But there are scenarios where they actually have no choice but to go into a shop when they have their dog in the car. Like if their toddler is busting to go to the loo or the car is about to run out of petrol.

    Realistic advice is going to work better here...

    Ella Factor Ella Factor 9:19 am 11 Nov 18

    Is that why so few places in Canberra set up a dog tether spot outside?

    In both Sydney and Melbourne I could take my dog to most places - I could duck into a shop on the way back from her walk, for example, because the shop would have a spot with water and leash post, to safely leave her. I could take her for a drive to a better park, and duck in to shop on way home, knowing I wouldn’t need to leave her in the car. Considering I’m trying to reduce our emissions by not doing wasteful driving, it’s annoying to have to drive home, drop the dog, drive back to the shops, etc. In Melbourne it was even better, dogs are allowed on public transport so I didn’t have to drive at all!

    In Newtown I could walk to supermarket with my granny trolley and my dog, leave dog at dog station, which had multiple water bowls and tether posts provided by the shopping centre.

    I did not realise it was Illegal in ACT to tie dog up outside shops though, but it explains why shops don’t provide such facilities here!

    Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 9:55 am 11 Nov 18

    Yep. I was quite outraged when I found out that that was the blanket rule in the ACT. I only discovered because I called DAS once to ask if there is an exclusion zone around schools for tethering your dog as I used to combine dog walk with dropping my kindy off. And was told it's never allowed anywhere, full stop.

    And that was after I'd lived in a suburb for years where it was rare to not see at least 3 dogs waiting for their owners outside of the local supermarket at any given time as plenty of people walked to the shops with their four legged friends.

    Those are not the people you need to make restrictive rules for. It's the ones that never walk their dogs they should be concerned about, both for the dogs' sake as well as the safety of the community.

    In Belgium, where I grew up, they have tether stations like that too. But then, you can take your dog on the bus and even in restaurants there.

    Louise Flood Louise Flood 2:43 pm 11 Nov 18

    Lin Van Oevelen totally agree

Margaret Gracie Margaret Gracie 7:52 am 11 Nov 18

Why take your dog out, if you're going to leave it in the car?

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