Keeping your pet safe this summer

Every year we are faced with images of dogs stuck in cars and smashed side windows – as a nation of pet lovers we can’t bear to see an animal left alone in a hot car.

But despite the same stories cropping up every summer, are you actually confident on where you lawfully stand if you smash another person’s car window if you see an animal is suffering in there?

Well, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 says only a council inspector or the police are permitted to enter premises, including a vehicle, to help an animal that is, or likely to be, suffering.

Thames Valley Police recently issued the following advice in a Facebook post:

“Firstly it is not advisable to force entry to the vehicle yourself. Your first step should be to call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 to inform them of the details namely, the condition of the dog, the registration number and location of the car. A dog warden service may also be able to help. They should despatch an inspector/warden to deal with the situation if [they] can. [They] will call the police if it is necessary to break into the car.

“If the matter is getting near life or death for the animal, call the police directly and ask for an estimated time of arrival. If the police don't have time to get there, then you have to decide if you should take action.”

Thames Valley Police’s post goes on to cover a section of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 which says you have a lawful excuse to commit damage if you believe the property’s owner would give consent to destruction or damage if they knew about it and its circumstances.

Basically, if you think the pet’s owner would be happy for you to smash their car window to save the animal within, if they knew it was in mortal danger, the law could fall on your side.

Pet summer safety

Even when it doesn’t feel that warm outside, a car can become hot very quickly.

“When it’s 22 degrees, in a car it can reach an unbearable 47 degrees within the hour,” an RSPCA spokesman said.

However, the advice is simple; don’t leave animals in cars, conservatories or caravans.

In just a few minutes, even on a cloudy day with the windows open, the temperature can soar dangerously high, the RSPCA states.

In the warmer weather:

  • Give your pet lots of water
  • Before taking your pet out for a walk on a sunny day try the five-second test – place the back of your hand on the pavement, if it’s too hot to hold for five seconds then it’s too hot for your pet’s paws
  • Invest in some pet sunscreen if your furry friend is going to be out in the sun
  • On hot days, make sure your pet has access to shaded areas

Travelling with pets


If you’re taking your pet on the road, here are some helpful tips:

  • Ensure your pet is correctly restrained in your car; leaving your pet free to jump around in the car could be distracting and could cause an accident
  • A cat will need access to a litter box on a long car journey
  • Take lots of pet food and water
  • Make regular stops and allow your pet out to stretch its legs and do its business
  • No heads out the window, sorry! Funny as it is when your dog’s tongue is lolling about in the breeze, it could cause your dog an injury
  • Exercise your dog before the car journey so it is more relaxed
  • And importantly, make sure your pet is comfortable for the trip

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