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Two dogs locked in car at Canberra Centre as rising numbers of pets suffer heatstroke

Glynis Quinlan 5 January 2019

A still image from a video posted on Facebook showing a dog left in a car at the Canberra Centre car park.

Two dogs were allegedly left locked in a car at the Canberra Centre car park in 33-degree heat on Thursday (January 3) as the RSPCA ACT warns of a rise in the number of animals needing urgent medical attention because of the rising temperatures.

A Canberra woman has taken to social media to blast the supposed owners of the dogs, writing “What kind of people would think this is acceptable?”

The woman, who videoed the car and one of the dogs barking at 7:27 pm, wrote: “I’m sure it would have been 40+ inside. I was standing there with sweat dripping off me”.

“I waited at the car while my husband called the NRMA who said they would send out the police urgently,” wrote the woman on the Canberra Notice Board Group Facebook page.

“The owners—a couple in their late 40s, I’d guess—then appeared carrying a few bags of shopping. When I confronted them, the woman said “sorry.” The man just smiled.

“For anyone out there who comes across this, call NRMA roadside assistance and press 0 for their emergency line. They will take it seriously.”

Below is one of two videos taken by the woman at the Canberra Centre car park (with the other showing a white dog barking in the car). It has been shared from the Canberra Notice Board Group Facebook page:

Posted by Bec O'Brien on Thursday, 3 January 2019

The RSPCA ACT said that, with temperatures at a high, they have seen a rising number of animals needing urgent medical attention due to heatstroke and being left in hot cars.

RSPCA ACT CEO Michelle Robertson said that animals can die in six minutes in a hot car and it is essential for pet owners to take the necessary care and precautions to avoid heat stress for their animals during summer.

“We want to caution the community to avoid heartbreak by potentially losing a beloved pet from heatstroke,” Ms Robertson said.

“Even a short walk in the heat of the day can be fatal and it only takes six minutes for an animal to die in a hot car.

“Our pets can’t always adequately cool themselves during such intense heat. It’s up to us as responsible pet owners to do everything we can to protect them.”

The NRMA recently told Region Media that they had rescued 40 dogs from Canberra cars in the year up until October 2018.

NRMA spokesperson Rebecca Page said the NRMA will “drop everything” to respond to calls about animals being left in cars because of the “grave danger involved”.

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 2017 and October 2018.

“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.”

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 RSPCA ACT says that rabbits find it particularly hard in the hot weather. They suggest filling up a drink bottle with ice for them as it will help cool them down and make a great toy. Photo: Supplied.

The RSPCA ACT has provided the following tips for keeping pets cool in the hot weather:

  • Do they have sun protection? Did you know that your pet can experience sunburn and heatstroke? Provide shade and other sun barriers whenever possible to reduce their overall sun exposure. Don’t forget the sunscreen! It’s a good idea to use a non-toxic, hypoallergenic sunscreen formulated specifically for use on pets.
  • Recognise the signs of heatstroke – these include but are not limited to: excessive panting, weakness, vomiting, lethargy and eventually unconsciousness and death. Please ensure your pet has access to shade and clean water at all times.
  • Avoid the hottest part of the day – if your pet enjoys a long walk or run, it’s best to save that for early morning or evening when the day (and ground) has had time to cool down. Their paws can actually be burnt from cement if we’re not careful.
  • Don’t leave pets in hot cars. It only takes six minutes for an animal to die in a hot car. We cannot stress enough how imperative it is. Additionally, if your pet travels on the back of a ute please do a touch test of the area first to ensure it won’t burn.
  • Spoil them with iced treats – there are fantastic recipes you can find online for icy and delicious treats for your pet. Rabbits, dogs and many other animals enjoy a cool treat.

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