No doubt you’ve heard in the news lately about volunteers and organizations who are doing their part to help stop dog owners from leaving their pets in hot cars. Here’s one recent example of a group in the Montreal, Quebec area, who have been visiting malls in that area, looking for dogs being left in cars on hot days. “They say many people leave their pets inside their cars” and say “I’ll only be five minutes.” but they want them to know five minutes could be all it takes to create potentially deadly condition for their pet.

Manon Lapierre says when the weather is warm, the inside of a parked car is no place for a dog. “It’s animal cruelty and I can’t handle that. It’s just heartbreaking,” she said. Group members say every time they visit a mall on a hot day they find at least one dog locked in a car. They then go into stores to page the pet’s owner and confront them when they come out.

Dog owner Rob Nelson left his dog in the car while inside a Montreal mall Sunday. He appreciates what the group is doing but doesn’t believe there was cause for alarm. “I can leave my dog in the car for 10 minutes with the windows all cracked, I mean that car is open. If there was an issue if she looked like she was in distress, there wasn’t going to be any issue with anybody getting at her,” he said. But veterinarian Dr. Isak Kasuto says it takes less time than you think before a dog shows the early signs of heat stroke. “Even a car that’s driving without air conditioning can be too hot. Any time you can feel the heat, it’s having already an impact on the animal,” he said.

Most animals can’t cool their bodies as efficiently as humans, but that is especially true for dogs. Something as simple as panting could be a sign the dog is suffering from heat stroke. Dizziness or having trouble walking are the next steps that can quickly turn into more serious symptoms that are sometimes irreversible. Alanna Devine from the Montreal SPCA says putting an animals life in jeopardy can result in a fine of anywhere between $2,000 and $25,000.

“The problem is that there is no clear article dealing with leaving animals in cars, or dealing with what inspectors or police officers can do if they see an animal in a hot car, so it’s really all up to subject of interpretation of the person applying the legislation.”

If you fear for the health of a pet in a parked car, please contact the police, and/or your local SPCA or humane society. 613-634-7123