Can you break into a car to rescue a dog in hot weather? What the law says

As Yorkshire sizzles in a baking heatwave and the UK experiences some of the hottest days of 2020, police have begun dealing with dogs being found in locked cars.

Friday, 26th June 2020, 4:30 pm
Updated Friday, 26th June 2020, 4:32 pm

On Friday, West Yorkshire Police revealed they had dealt with 6 incidents of dogs being left in hot cars in the past four days.

A spokesman said: "In the last four days there have been 87 incidents involving animals across the force area Officers have dealt with a 6 incidents of dogs being left in hot cars."

So what should you do if you see a dog locked in a car in hot weather? What does the law say about rescuing a dog from a hot car?

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Police say they have rescued six dogs in hot cars

What the RSPCA says:

This is what the law says about breaking into a car to rescue a dog

1. In an emergency, it is best to dial 999 and report a dog in a hot car to police. The RSPCA may not be able to attend quickly enough and, with no powers of entry, we’d need police assistance at such an incident.

2. If the animal is displaying any sign of heatstroke – such as panting heavily, drooling excessively, is lethargic or uncoordinated, or collapsed and vomiting – call 999 immediately.

3. If the situation becomes critical and police can’t attend, many people’s instinct is to break into the car to free the dog. But please be aware that, without proper justification, this could be classed as criminal damage.

Make sure you tell the police of your intentions and take photos or footage of the dog as well as names and numbers of witnesses. 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.

4. Once removed from the car, move the dog to a shaded/cool area and pour small amounts of cool water over their body. Don’t use cold water as this could put your pet into shock. Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water. Once the dog is cool take him the to nearest vet as a matter of urgency.

5. If the dog isn’t displaying signs of heatstroke, establish how long the dog has been in the car and make a note of the registration. Ask a member of staff to make an announcement of the situation over the tannoy, if possible, and get someone to stay with the dog to monitor its condition.

6. You can call the RSPCA’s 24-hour emergency cruelty line on 0300 1234 999 for advice but, if a dog is in danger, dialling 999 should always be the first step.