Nfld. & Labrador

Hot dogs in vehicles prompt calls to police, and a warning to pet owners

If you can't take the heat, your dog can't either.

Sit in your car with engine off, windows closed. If it's too hot for you, it's too hot for your dog

With warm temperatures comes a spike in calls to police about dogs left unattended in vehicles, says RNC Const. Geoff Higdon. (Associated Press File Photo)

The sun may be shining and the weather warm, making for lovely outdoor summer conditions in St. John's, but your furry friends can't handle the heat of a closed car.

Police in St. John's have had several calls this week from concerned members of the public who spotted dogs locked in cars, with no owner in sight.

If you sat in your own car, engine off, windows up, on a hot day, in the backseat, you wouldn't last for very long.- Const. Geoff Higdon

The hot weather leads to a spike in such calls every year, said Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Const. Geoff Higdon.

"It's an issue that creeps up every year when we start seeing the temperatures rising — a little earlier this year than normal though," said Higdon.

While he doesn't have exact numbers about the calls so far this summer, it's enough for him to want to remind the public not to leave their pets in a hot vehicle.

"I know at least probably three or four for sure [Tuesday] morning. We put it out on our Twitter to try to put out some sort of public advisory to tell people, if you're gonna be out for the day just don't take your dog with you," he told CBC's St. John's Morning Show.

"It might not even be just people going for the day; it could be people going to run to the grocery store and they're in for a half hour or to go to Costco or to go to Walmart, any of these places where you're gonna be in somewhere for up to an hour or more."

If it's too hot for you, it's too hot for your pet

Sometimes, callers report seeing a dog left alone in a closed vehicle, but it takes police 10 or 15 minutes to get there and the owner and dog in question are gone.

Dogs left unattended in hot cars can lead to brain damage if they're left too long, says Const. Geoff Higdon. (CBC)

"And then there's times where we show up and there's a crowd gathered around a vehicle and someone says 'I've been here for a period of time, a long time, the dog seems to be distressed,'" said Higdon.

In those cases, Higdon said police will try to page the vehicle owner, but they've also had to call a tow truck operator in to unlock vehicles and, in extreme cases, break windows to rescue the animal.

It all depends on the specific situation, Higdon said. If people leave their dogs alone for just a couple minutes to run into a shop, that's one thing. But any longer and it puts them at risk.

"If you sat in your own car, engine off, windows up, on a hot day, in the backseat, you wouldn't last for very long," he said.

Const. Geoff Higdon says there's no set instructions for when you should call police, but assess the level of danger and use your judgement. (Travis McEwan/CBC )

"There's been lots of stories, not so much locally but if you look at news in other parts of the country or even in the U.S., people have been charged for animals dying in vehicles or children left in vehicles. It can cause brain damage if you're in a hot environment deprived of fresh oxygen for long periods of time, so it can be very dangerous."

For more serious situations, charges under the Criminal Code of Canada could be laid.

With files from Krissy Holmes