31 January 2023

In just two months, since the beginning of summer, RSPCA WA has received a staggering 76 calls about dogs left in hot cars, signalling people are still not heeding the warnings.

Thankfully none of the reports have ended in a fatality but the animal welfare organisation said it’s concerning the high number of dog owners continuing to put their pet in harm’s way.

With temperatures set to rise to 36°C and 37°C across the Perth area this week, RSPCA WA is again reminding members of the public that if they love their dogs, they need to leave them at home.

Window tinting, parking in the shade or leaving the windows down a bit provides little or no relief.

Because dogs cool down by panting (breathing in air that is cooler than their body temperature) they can't regulate their temperature if they are left in a hot car.

The situation can quickly turn dire, and the effects of heatstroke can be fatal.

RSPCA WA Inspector Manager Kylie Green said the kindest thing dog owners can do for their canine companions is to leave them at home with shade and plenty of water.

“Even if you are just popping into the shops or stopping at the post office, it takes just six minutes for the temperature in the parked car to reach a fatal level,” she said.

“When the temperature outside is just a mild 22°C, the temperature inside a parked car can rise to over 47°C in a matter of minutes, so you can imagine it would be far more dangerous on a 37°C day.

“Dogs in these conditions can suffer an agonising death.

“Our message is simple – if you love your dog, leave them at home. A quick visit to the shops could cost your dog their life. Don't put your dog's life at risk.”

If you see a dog in a hot car:

  1. Identify signs of heatstroke.
  2. Note down the vehicle's registration number and location and report it immediately to the RSPCA Cruelty Hotline on 1300 278 358 (1300 CRUELTY) or call WA Police on 131 444.
  3. If you're at a shopping centre, ask the centre management to page the owner of the vehicle.
  4. Keep an eye on the dog until help arrives but maintain a suitable distance to ensure you don't agitate them, which could cause further distress, making the dog even hotter.
  5. Gather as much evidence as possible (vehicle details, time and date, photos of the dog in the vehicle).

Leaving a dog in a hot car could constitute a charge of animal cruelty which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $50,000 fine. The RSPCA relies on the community to report incidents of suspected cruelty and neglect. Report cruelty 24/7 on 1300 CRUELTY (1300 278 358) or online here.