Temperatures in vehicles can rise rapidly in warm, sunny weather and quickly become hot enough to seriously impair a dog’s or other pet’s health.
In as little as 20 minutes, it can be a matter of life or death, and also result in charges under B.C.’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Careless owners who expose pets to excessive heat and/or deprive them of adequate ventilation can be charged under the B.C. government’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
The act carries the toughest penalties in Canada, with maximum penalties of $75,000 fines and two- year imprisonment. The act also provides authority to SPCA officers to enter locked vehicles to relieve animals from critical distress.
The provincial government has concluded these measures are not enough to stop British Columbians from putting their pets at risk by leaving them in cars. As a result the B.C. government will be consulting with the BC SPCA, the B.C. College of Veterinarians, UBCM, local governments and police services to increase the options to rescue animals that have been left in cars and are suffering heat related distress.
Targeted consultations will take place this summer and fall, with any changes and additional measures anticipated to be complete and in effect by spring 2016.
“While many British Columbians are known to indulge their pets, the B.C. government expects every pet owner to be responsible, and not risk their dog’s lives by leaving them in hot cars. Despite awareness campaigns and Canada’s toughest penalties under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, we need to do more in situations when pets are needlessly put at risk. The B.C. government is working with stakeholders to increase options for authorities to rescue animals suffering heat related distress, and fully expect to have them in place before next summer,” said Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, speaking in his role as B.C.’s Agriculture Minister.
BC SPCA chief prevention and enforcement officer Marcie Moriarty said the SPCA has received more than 1,200 calls about animals left in hot vehicles this summer, and that number is on the rise, and already higher than the approximately 1100 calls the SPCA responded to in 2014.
The BC SPCA wants to remind everyone to leave their pets at home in this hot weather,” Moriarty said.
British Columbians who spot animals in distress should contact the BC SPCA’s Animal Cruelty Hotline at 1-855-622-7722.