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Leave pets at home, not in hot cars, BC SPCA urges ahead of heatwave

A spell of hot weather is coming to Vancouver, sending temperatures into the 30°s by the end of the week. Angela Bower reports.

With a heatwave set to engulf much of B.C. this weekend, the SPCA is urging pet owners not to leave their animals in cars.

The organization says leaving pets in vehicles can be fatal, with temperatures expected to near 30 degrees in many parts. The BC SPCA stresses no amount of time is okay to leave an animal in a hot vehicle.

“We hear it all the time, ‘I was just running into the store, I was only gone a few minutes,’ but what many people don’t understand is that even a few minutes can have fatal effects for an animal. Not to mention, even the shortest trips can easily turn into a half an hour or more in the store while your pet suffers in the heat,” explained Eileen Drever, senior officer for protection and stakeholder relations for the BC SPCA.

The SPCA is encouraging pet owners to leave animals at home, “unless you know for sure you can bring them with you into the stores you plan to visit.”

The association says it received 837 calls about animals in hot cars in 2023. So far this year, the SPCA says its Animal Helpline has already gotten 257 calls, with more expected.

The SPCA stresses that “only RCMP, local police, and BC SPCA animal protection officers have the authority to enter a vehicle lawfully to help a pet in distress.” The organization is reminding people that breaking a car window to remove an animal is “illegal and dangerous.”

If you come across an animal in a hot vehicle and have concerns, the SPCA says you should take note of the vehicle’s licence plate, make and model, colour, and get in touch with any nearby businesses that may be able to page the owner right away.

If you see an animal show signs of distress, such as exaggerated panting or no panting at all, salivating, muscle tremors or lack of coordination, vomiting, or convulsions, you’re urged to call your local animal control agency, police, or the SPCA Animal helpline at 1-855-622-7722 right away.

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