20 June 2014

A dog breeder who left a dog in a car parked at a shopping centre on a 38 degree December day has been found guilty of animal cruelty in Perth Magistrates Court today.

The case is believed to be the first of its kind in Western Australia and sends a warning to all dog owners about leaving dogs in hot cars during the warmer months.

Roxy in hot car 2014Adele Culverwell, 65, of Muckenburra was charged by the RSPCA with one count of animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2002. The sentencing decision will be handed down on 8th August 2014. Her dog Roxy, a two and a half year old Borzoi, has been cared for by the RSPCA since the offence.

RSPCA Chief Inspector Amanda Swift said: "We welcome the decision of the Court today because it sends a clear message to the public – don't leave your dog in a car in warm weather."

"This message has been out there in the public domain for many years and some people are still putting their dogs at risk of serious long term health problems and even death by cooking them in hot cars."

She said that the majority of West Australians were now well aware of the message and people who left their dogs in hot cars were likely to be reported to the RSPCA, the police or to local Shire rangers.

"Last summer, the RSPCA received almost 600 calls about dogs in hot cars and in the vast majority of cases, the people concerned have been horrified to learn that they could have seriously harmed or even caused the death of their dog and they have vowed never to do so again," Chief Inspector Swift said.

Culverwell was charged after refusing to accept that her actions had caused Roxy considerable suffering and harm.

"We received complaints about a dog locked in a car at the Carousel Shopping Centre in Cannington in December 2012 and the RSPCA inspector found Roxy panting inside a Ford panel van in the car park at approximately 4.30pm," Chief Inspector Swift said.

The inspector took the dog to a veterinary clinic where it was diagnosed with heat stroke and had to be treated with cooling techniques and given fluid intravenously before being discharged into the care of the RSPCA.

Chief Inspector Swift said that Culverwell had not only refused to accept that her actions had caused Roxy to suffer, but she had also refused to rule out doing the same thing again.

RSPCA advice:

  • It is preferable not to leave dogs in a vehicle at any time of the year - even when the windows are down dogs can still overheat and die. If in doubt, leave your animals at home.
  • Even on mild days the temperature inside the vehicle rises rapidly to dangerous levels.
  • When the ambient temperature is 22°C the temperature inside a car can rise to over 47°C in 60 minutes.
  • The high temperatures in the car combined with inadequate ventilation/air flow mean that the dog cannot thermo-regulate leaving them vulnerable to over-heating which can be fatal. Animals in these conditions can suffer a slow and agonizing death.