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Don't call 911 for dogs in cars

No one, including first responders, wants to see an animal suffer, but calling 911 might not be the first thing people should do when they find pets left in cars.

Instead, police are asking the public to call Nanaimo RCMP's non-emergency number at 250-754-2345 where callers will be connected with a telecommunications operator who will determine the best way to handle the situation and, depending its severity, the operator will assign someone from the local SPCA branch or a police officer. This avoids tying up 911 operators with non-emergency calls.

If an animal is in severe distress, it might appear lethargic and might not respond to someone's voice and a quick response will be needed. On the other hand if a dog is barking and jumping around inside a vehicle, a call to the SPCA is likely the best course of action.

The number for the SPCA's Nanaimo branch is 250-758-8444.

Police also caution people not to take action on their own by breaking into vehicles. The RCMP realizes animal distress calls are time sensitive and will dedicate the personnel or resources needed to deal with those situations.

"Perhaps the best thing to do during hot summer weather is leave pets at home," Const. Gary O'Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman. "In this type of weather, this is not something you should have to worry about. Leave your dog at home."

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