The recent heat wave has led to an rise in calls about pets – usually dogs – left unattended in vehicles.
Often a passerby hears a dog barking and then sees the dog jumping up and down. This is not a sign of distress, but RCMP officers are often called and must attend.
“We understand the urgency of these situations and appreciate how the public must feel when they see an animal in a parked vehicle,” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman. “We also recognize the overwhelming majority of these calls are resolved successfully without any injury to the animal or damage to the car.”
If you see an animal in a vehicle, please follow this check list before contacting the RCMP, animal control agencies or the SPCA.
- Is the vehicle parked in the direct sun or is there some shade?
- Are the windows down and does the animal have air flow?
- How long have you observed the animal for?
- Is there water?
- Have you tried to contact the owner in nearby stores, paging the owner by vehicle description and plate number or inquiring with pedestrians?
- How is animal acting? Is it panting, laying down, barking or vomiting?
“If you observe an animal shaking uncontrollably, it appears to be lethargic or it has lost coordination, it may be in distress,” O’Brien said. “This is a critical situation which may require the attendance of the RCMP.”
Animal control agencies and the B.C. SPCA have no authority to remove an animal from a vehicle and will contact the RCMP if necessary. The RCMP is the only agency that can lawfully remove an animal from a vehicle and, if necessary, break a window or have a tow company attend to unlock the doors.
If you have any questions about animal care or the signs of heat distress in animals, please call City of Nanaimo Animal Control at 250-754-1397.
Police strongly recommend all animals be left at home during hot weather.