Don’t Be One of the 35% – See a Dog in a Hot Car, Report it!

The UK may be a nation of dog lovers, but it seems we are still putting man’s best friend at risk as a new survey released today by Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, reveals that over 66% of people have seen a dog locked in a car on a sunny day yet over a third of them did nothing about it.

With temperatures easily reaching over 40 degrees in some parked vehicles, dogs could die within minutes so Dogs Trust has joined forces with the AA and the National Trust to target motorists and visitors with their “Hot Cars Can Kill Dogs” Campaign.

The survey also reveals that 15% of those questioned called the police when they saw a dog locked in the car, 49% tried to alert the driver and 4% actually broke into the car to rescue the dog. Over the last year AA patrols have rescued 832 pets locked in cars and in recent years there have been several high profile cases of canine fatalities.

The “Hot Cars Can Kill Dogs” Campaign begins this month with thousands of joint posters being displayed across National Trust properties and handed out by the AA at summer events and service areas across the UK. All three organisations have also contacted their members via social networking sites and supporter magazines, totalling 21 million people**.

Dogs Trust Veterinary Director, Paula Boyden, comments:

““It is shocking to see that so many people consider leaving their dog in the car, whatever the weather.
You wouldn’t leave your child in the car. Given how quickly the temperature can rise, it is equally unfathomable that you would leave your pet.

We are delighted to be working with the AA and the National Trust to use the combined force of our members to spread the word and prevent any further dog deaths this Summer.

35% of people who have seen a dog locked in a car have decided to do nothing, but our advice is, if you see it, report it!”

See also  Why Do Dogs Yawn?

Advice to motorists include:

Never leave your dog alone in the car – even if it seems cool outside it can become very hot very quickly. Parking in the shade and/or keeping the windows down does not make it safe!

Make sure you keep your dog as cool as possible when driving: avoid travelling during the heat of the day, use sun blinds on the windows and consider opening a window a little to allow a cooling breeze to circulate in the vehicle

Make sure you have a supply of water and know where you can stop off on route for water breaks. Dogs are not able to cool down as effectively as humans so could suffer from heat stroke and dehydration very quickly

If you do see a dog in distress please contact your local police station or the RSPCA.

National Trust Head of Communications, Andrew McLaughlin, comments:
“Walking the dog can be a real incentive to get outdoors and discover new places. We offer dogs and their owners a huge variety of places to walk close to urban areas, on the coast and in the countryside. If you’re planning to take your dog, it makes sense to check ahead to see what facilities are available to make sure you and your pets get the most enjoyment out of the day.”

AA Patrol of the Year, Andy Smith, comments:

“”The dangers are obvious, you just have to touch the dashboard or seats to know how hot the inside of a car can get. But it’s not just on warm days when dogs are at risk – vehicles can be death-traps even in cooler temperatures.

“So, if you are carrying a dog in the car, plan in some stops, take plenty of drinking water for it and check traffic reports – you want to minimise the time sitting in traffic..”

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Jasmine Kleine

Jasmine Kleine

Jasmine Kleine is the the online editor at She is an experienced dog owner and professional writer who lives with her two beloved dogs, Mabel and Charlie.


  1. Last summer in Fair Oaks, CA (Sacramento County) on one of our VERY HOT evenings saw a small dog locked in a car windows UP in obvious heat distress (not normal panting) in the Parking Lot of Raleys at Madison and Hazel. I first tried to notify the (male) Raley’s Manager of the night and have him address it, he stated it wasn’t their policy to get involved as might offend their Customer!!!!!!!!!!!! As was after hours of our Animal Control, I contacted our Sheriff’s Department and gave them their licence # and where parked. When I came out from shopping car and dog where gone. Never saw officers. Very frustrating experience ~ :o( ~

  2. Where I live in SW Essex the authorities are very good (in my experience) of dealing with animals at risk from heat-stroke.
    We used to live in flats above the shops and a MacDonalds. The dog we could see wasn’t in a car but tied to a lamppost in full sun on a very hot day and it had been there for about 30 mins. I called the RSPCA who called the local police. Both arrived within 20 mins just as the owner came out of MacDonalds with her children. They spent considerable time talking to her and RSPCA man gave the dog some water.
    Another time I was at a local dog show. Over the tannoy announcements kept being given out for the GSD breeder to go back to his van as it was so hot that day and he’d left 3 dogs inside. Eventually the announcement changed to “the police are about to break into your van”.

  3. Wouldn’t it have been good if this article had included telephone numbers to ring? How many people carry the number of the RSPCA or the local police in their head? From experience, I would say it is often not even easy to find these numbers in the directory when you need them. As part of your campaign, how about giving out stickers that dog owners could put in their car windows, showing the numbers to call? Perhaps a National Trust/Dogs Trust hotline number could help, giving concerned members of the public someone to contact. The public also need to know where they stand legally if they break into a car. What happens if you vandalise somebody’s car, then realise the dog wasn’t as distressed as you thought? And what happens if you get bitten while you’re at it? Or the dog leaps out and disappears? As a dog owner, I am only too aware of the dangers of leaving dogs in cars, so if I don’t know the answer to these questions, how is an ordinary member of the public likely to judge what action is reasonable in the circumstances?

  4. My partner and I saw three lurchers in a 4×4 last week when it was hot, none of the windows were down. We went into the shop that owned the car park and they put a shout-out over the tannoy. They were still there when we left, so I went back into the shop and they said they couldn’t do anything until the police turned up, but we had been over 45 minutes so I have no idea how long the dogs had been in the car or what happened to them.

    There should be more posters in all car parks, with a number to ring for people to report dogs in this situation, and shops and parking attendants should have a set procedure to adhere to in these situations. The police should also take this sort of cruelty a lot more seriously.

  5. thinks jenny cole needs to do a few seconds research on this instead of transferring ownership of obtaining tel numbers to this website and the campaign. Of course its easy to find the numbers! A child could even do it. Also numbers would be different for everywhere in the country so how are the campaigners supposed to update each one, it would cost and take extra time. do it yourself! its up to us as the public to obtain the telephone numbers of such places! I think she is asking far too many ridiculous questions and wasting peoples time on here. I hope the comments get reviewed by someone and edited/removed! Perhaps ordinary members of the public (as you call them) have more common sense than yourself.

  6. Rhona, I think Jenny Cole is absolutely right! All those questions are valid. Things happen fast, you are not prepared, you don’t have the number with you. The article should have provided at least one phone number. Last year I saw a car parked in front of a pub in Suffolk with a dog inside, it was 35 degrees outside. The window was slightly only open, definitely not enough for this kind of temperature. I went into the pub and asked the people if they knew whose the car was – noone camed forward. I did not have the RSPCA number or the number for the local police, nor did anyone else. I don’t have internet on my mobile. What was I supposed to do? Break into the car? The dog might bite me or escape. The owner might attack me… I must say other people were pretty disinterested. I was terribly frustrated and unhappy. I left the matter with the pub owner as I had a car full of children and dogs waiting for me. I sometimes think about that dog and hope he’s OK. Later I checked at home and saw that there is a 24-hour RSPCA cruelty line (0300 1234 999), for the whole of UK. Now I always carry this number with me, althouh I’m not actually sure this is the number one is supposed to ring in such a case. If this is a national campaign it should absolutely have at least one (easy to remember) number where people can ring and report. I can’t believe there will be no phone number on posters and leaflets!

  7. I would get the license # of the car, wait about 30 min, if the person did not come out by then, I would probably call either the police or animal rescue. Then after about 20 min, I would leave a note under the wiper stating that you should not leave your dog in the car, and I have your license# and I will report you to the proper authorities. If for some reason the officials were not available, uninterested or take too long, I would probably smash the window and take the dog. I guarantee you that I would be arrested, but oh well.

    It’s amazing that when the police or others speak to the owners,they get really mad. We have some very strict rules here about animal abuse,and if convicted, they can go to jail for at least a year. Actually, I think I’d leave them in the hot car with the windows up for at least 3 hours. I don’t care…the punishment should fit the crime.

    Here in the Massachusetts we have a giant flea market 3X a year. I heard a story that someone saw one or three dogs in a hot car, and an announcement came over saying that the person with license #XXXX better get their dogs out or someone will be over to break a window and get them out.

    Thanks for letting me vent.

  8. i noticed two dogs in a car outside my place of work, it was cloudy but very warm, i took note of the time and when i returned half hour later they were still there, so i rang the RSPCA, they took the car reg, while i was on the phone to them the owner returned, i passed the phone to the owner and the RCPCA lady gave him advice. they told me that now they had his car reg they would follow it up. The number for the RSPCA is 03001234999 i keep it in my phone.

  9. Last summer, I reported a ‘professional’ dog walker to the police. He had, what turned out to be 38(!!!) dogs in the back of his 4×4. The dogs couldn’t sit down, move and their faces were squashed up against the windows. There were no windows in the back of the vehicle and even though it was about 11am it was still a warm summer morning. He pulled into the car park, got out of the vehicle and went and had his breakfast, leaving the dogs in the back unattended. I was so angry I wanted to smash the windows myself but knew I would only get in trouble. The body heat in the back must have been unbelievable. It took the police 30 minutes to get there and by then he had unloaded the dogs and took them for all for a walk together!!! This is a daily thing. No one has stopped him even thought there have been complaints made to the local animal wardens. If only the owners knew what he was doing. Maybe this year he wont be so lucky and neither will one of the poor dogs if the heat kills it.

  10. I adopted a mini long haired dachshund 8 years ago from an elderly couple who left her in the car in hot sunshine and temperatures of 86F. They had no idea what heat could do to animals and when they did call the AA, it was 4 hours before the breakdown services arrived and smashed the window. They themselves didn’t smash the window as it would cost too much money to replace, was their excuse. By this time, both dogs were very hot, very dehyderated and the dachsie had torn off her nails scratching frantically trying to get out. In those microwave conditions she literally went mad and probably would have boiled to death. It was decided that euthanisia would be the kindest option but I persuaded the couple to let me have her. I took her home and for the first few weeks this dog walked around in circles with her head in the air, suffered mega bloat and her hair fell out in patches. Amazingly, the other dog survived for a few months without any ill effects. The dachsie, however, took 3 years to recover mentally although she went
    “trauma blind” 6 months after the accident. She is now 8 years of age, blind and the quality of her life is good but this was because I perservered with daily reiki sessions that
    sent her into a deep sleep; plenty of tender loving care, homeopathy and a proper diet. She is now 19 years of age, sleeps a lot but watching the beatific expression on her face when she is dozing in one of her many baskets, is very heartwarming. I shudder to think
    what could have been if I hadnt made the decision to take her on. I fully agree with the person who suggested that the animal chartities should have stickers available telling people not to leave dogs in cars on a hot, sunny day. I make no apologies for being a “stalinist snitch” and making life difficult for those that leave a panting dog in a hot car saying they will only be 5 minutes. Invaribly that turns into 20 or 30 minutes. I go into shops and ask if someone has left a dog in a hot car. That gets others agitated and accusingly glare at the person. The owner soon gets the message and rushes out when several people start tutting and muttering “Shame! How could you do that?”

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