What the law says about breaking into a car to rescue a dog in heatwave weather

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As Yorkshire sizzles in a baking heatwave and the UK experiences one of the hottest days ever recorded, police and animal charities have issued fresh warnings about leaving dogs in hot cars.

Just today, we reported on a dog left inside a hot car in a retail park in Leeds which led West Yorkshire Police to issue a warning.

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

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

But what can you do if you see a dog trapped in a hot car? Do you have any legal rights to break the window?

What the RSPCA says:

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.

-> Met Office warning as thunderstorm forecast for Leeds