ROAD SAFETY AND breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging pet owners to ensure their animals are safe and comfortable on car journeys this week. The call comes as forecasters predict sunny and warmer weather for later in the week, with temperatures rising into the high 20s by the weekend.

GEM chief executive Neil Worth warns that it’s both dangerous and illegal to leave an animal in a hot vehicle. “If the dog becomes ill or dies, you are likely to face a charge of animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006,” he warns. “This offence can bring a prison sentence of up to six months and/or a fine of up to £20,000.”

Canine comfort

GEM has compiled a short checklist designed to ensure dogs stay safe and comfortable on car journeys:

  • Leave your dog at home on warmer days.
  • If you do need to transport your dog, bring plenty of fresh drinking water, and a bowl. Ensure your dog is able to stay cool on a journey.
  • Don’t let your dog travel unrestrained. Instead, use a proper travel basket or crate to create a safer space. Dog seatbelts and travel harnesses are also available.
  • Make plenty of stops on long journeys give your dog a good drink of water. Animals are unable to sweat in the way that humans can. Dogs cool themselves by panting and sweating through their paws, so it only take a a few minutes for dogs left in cars on hot days to begin experiencing the distressing symptoms of heatstroke.
  • If you suspect your dog is developing heatstroke on a journey, stop somewhere safe and find somewhere cool and shady. However, if signs of heat exhaustion become apparent (for example excessive thirst, heavy panting, rapid pulse, fever, vomiting, glazed eyes, dizziness), you should go straight to a veterinary surgeon.
  • If you see a pet in a vehicle on a hot day, take immediate action. For example, if you’re in a supermarket, roadside service area or garden centre car park, note the car make, model, colour and registration number, then go inside and ask for an announcement to be made. If this doesn’t bring the owner out, or you’re in a location where finding the owner is impossible, then dial 999 and ask for the police.