Hot days, fur coats don’t mix around Greater Victoria

SPCA urges people not to leave dogs in parked vehicles

Dogs in vehicles can get overheated in a matter of five minutes during warm weather. The S.P.C.A. urges pet owners to not leave their pets in vehicles as the days get hotter.

While most people in the Capital Region are happily embracing the first really warm weather of the year, Penny Stone is bracing for the worst.

Victoria police were busy last weekend sending out reminders over social media channels, after receiving calls about pets left in vehicles.

“I hate hot days for that reason,” said Stone, manager of the Victoria branch of the B.C. SPCA. “As soon as it’s a nice day, everybody’s happy it’s a nice day except for the SPCA.

“I just can’t believe people leave their dogs (in vehicles) in this kind of weather.”

While temperatures outside hovered in the 20 C range, inside vehicles it likely soared to more than 30 C, Stone said, including those parked in the shade with the windows cracked open.

Within five to 10 minutes of being left in a hot vehicle, dogs can become dehydrated, suffer heat stroke and even die, she said, adding it doesn’t have to be hot outside for the temperatures inside to skyrocket.

“If your dog doesn’t die, it could retain permanent brain damage,” she cautioned.

“Think of sitting in your car in a fur coat in the sun.”

Some pet owners don’t realize their dogs are only able to sweat by panting and through the pads on their feet, limiting their ability to cool down.

“(Heat stroke) happens so fast,” Stone said.

“The problem is people think that, ‘I’m just going to run in and get a loaf of bread.’”

Staff with Victoria Animal Control Services, which operates in Victoria, Esquimalt and Oak Bay, responded to two dogs left in the enclosed bed of a pickup truck Friday afternoon.

“They were sweltering. They were in very poor shape,” said Ian Fraser, the company’s senior animal control officer.

The cab was finally opened and the owner issued a $300 fine for failing to provide adequate ventilation and water to his pets, which were able to recover.

“The animals had defecated inside the back of the truck, an obvious sign of stress,” said Fraser, who declined to reveal where the truck was parked.

With the onset of summer temperatures, he expects his team will become even busier.

The City of Victoria toughened up its Animal Control Bylaw last October to include an animal welfare section. Under those regulations, fines can be issued to violators who enclose an animal with insufficient ventilation or water, or enclose it where there is no protection from the sun.

Since the bylaw was amended, animal control officers have levied one animal welfare fine in Victoria and issued a number of warnings.

“But I imagine by the end of the summer a number of fines will be issued,” Fraser said.

emccracken@vicnews.com