WARNING: graphic image
RSPCA WA chief inspector Amanda Swift says investigations into two separate incidents of dogs being locked in hot cars yesterday are ongoing.
A male mastiff died from heat-related injuries after allegedly being left in a hot car near a shopping centre in Balga for about two hours.
Members of the public witnessed the distressed dog and reported it to RSPCA WA inspectors who responded immediately.
Another two dogs of bull-breed survived despite being locked inside a car in Belmont Shopping Centre before a member of the public reported the incident to police, who notified the RSPCA.
The dogs’ owner returned to the car before RSPCA inspectors arrived.
The maximum temperature hit 27.1C with cloudy conditions, but the RSPCA said the temperature in the cars could have exceeded 50C.
Ms Swift said dogs could suffer from heat stress which resulted in the thickening of blood and dogs could die in six minutes.
“We have many reports of dogs being kept in cars; unfortunately a dog succumbed to the heat and died yesterday,” she said.
“Yesterday, people assumed that because there was some low cloud, that it would be acceptable to leave your dog in a hot car.
“It is clearly, clearly not acceptable to keep your dog in a car; even if you think it has got shade, all the windows are down or you put some water in the car.”
Ms Swift said dog owners should stop making “stupid excuses”.
“Stop putting your animals at risk – this is neglect, this is cruelty and you can face prosecution,” she said.
“These people say constantly; ‘I love my animal, it has got separation anxiety and I don’t want to leave it by itself’, yet you are committing cruelty.
“As we saw yesterday, thankfully the members of the public do step in…the RSPCA, police and rangers just can’t be everywhere and this is going on throughout of WA.”
She said the RSPCA received another case of a dog being locked in a hot car today.
Since December 1, the RSPCA received 132 reports of dogs in hot cars.
People who leave their dog in a car on a hot day can be prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act and face a maximum penalty of $50,000 or five years’ imprisonment, and a lengthy prohibition order preventing them from owning an animal for an amount of time determined by the courts.
If you see a dog locked in a car in hot weather, take the following action:
Note down the vehicle’s registration number and location and report it immediately to the RSPCA Cruelty Hotline on 1300 CRUELTY (1300 278 3589);
If you’re at a shopping centre, ask the centre management to page the owner of the vehicle by reading out the registration details over the speaker system;
Keep an eye on the dog until help arrives but maintain a suitable distance ensuring not to agitate the dog which could cause further distress;
Gather as much information as possible (vehicle details, time and date, photos of the dog in the vehicle etc.) to substantiate the report and assist with the investigation.