The hot weather might bring with it many nice things but it also means that many animals will overheat in vehicles at the hands of irresponsible owners.

The RSPCA says that when it is 22 degrees outside, which still isn't particularly hot, it can reach an unbearable 47 degrees in a car within an hour.

However, the state of Nevada is cracking down on this sort of behaviour this summer and has passed a law that makes it a crime to leave pets trapped in hot cars.

"Senate Bill 409 passed in the last legislative session raised the penalty for leaving a pet in a hot, locked car to the same level as leaving a child in the car," says Cathy Brooks, owner of The Hydrant Club.

Dog stood outside car on roadside

Credit: Creative Commons

Anyone found guilty of leaving their dog stuck in a hot car could face either six months behind bars or a $1,000 (£784) fine.

The news comes as a heatwave hits the UK and dog owners are being warned to be wary of walking their pets on hot pavements as it can burn their paws.

So, what should you do if you spot an animal stuck in a car on a hot day? The RSPCA gives the following advice on its website:

1. Establish the animal's health/condition. If they're displaying any signs of heatstroke, dial 999 Immediately.

2. If the situation becomes critical for the dog and the police are too far away/unable to attend, many people's instinct will be to break into the car to free the dog. If you decide to do this, please be aware that without proper justification, this could be classed as criminal damage and, potentially, you may need to defend your actions in court.

3. Make sure you tell the police what you intend to do, why, and take images/footage of the dog and the names and numbers of witnesses to the incident. The law states that you have a lawful excuse to commit damage if you believe that the owner of the property that you damage would consent to the damage if they knew the circumstances (section 5(2)(a) Criminal Damage Act 1971).

Dog

Credit: Creative Commons

If the dog you spot does not seem to be exhibiting signs of heatstroke, the charity advises that you try to establish how long it has been in the car and stay with it to monitor his or her condition for any changes in breathing.

You can also call the RSPCA cruelty line for advice any time on 0300 1234 999. However, if the dog is in danger, dialling 999 should always be your first port of call.

In the UK, anyone found guilty of leaving their dog alone in a vehicle on a hot day could be charged under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The maximum penalty for neglect or cruelty to animals is 51 weeks in prison, and/or a fine of up to £20,000.

Words: Paddy Maddison

Featured Image Credit: Creative Commons

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