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19/06/2006

Leavings animals trapped inside cars in hot weather can lead to fatal strokes, says Christina Jordan

More than half of British adults (18.3m) have witnessed a pet left trapped inside a vehicle on a hot day.  With temperatures soaring Halifax Pet Insurance is urging owners never to leave a pet in an unattended vehicle. 
 
On sunny days a stationary vehicle becomes like an oven and temperatures can increase to double that outside within 6 to 10 minutes. That’s more than enough time for a dog left inside to suffer heat stress and ultimately a fatal heat stroke.

According to Halifax’s research, almost 1 million (900,000) members of the public have made an attempt to rescue a pet trapped in a car by increasing a pet’s airflow – for example by smashing car windows.  Another 695,000 (4%) were so concerned about the animal that they made a physical attempt to actually free the animal from the locked vehicle.

Plus 5.1m (28%) said that they tried to find the owner, 3.4 m (19%) alerted the RSPCA and 2.6m (15%) reported it straight to the police.  Sadly almost one-in-three (5.3m) admitted that they had done nothing at all to help the animal’s plight.  3.7m (20%) said it was because they didn’t know what to do, but 1.6m (9%) simply decided it wasn’t their problem and chose to turn a blind eye and walk away.    
 
Mathew Long, senior products manager at Halifax Pet Insurance, said: “First and foremost prevention is better than cure. Under no circumstances is it acceptable to leave a pet unattended inside a car on a warm or even mild day. In a matter of minutes an animal can become distressed in these conditions, and of course temperatures can quickly change.
 
“Anyone that sees an animal suffering inside a hot car should phone both the RSPCA and the Police immediately.  It might take time for them to arrive so it is important to try and find the owner as well – for example using the tannoy system in a Supermarket.” 

The RSPCA’s chief veterinary officer, Steve Cheetham said: “A dog left in a warm car, conservatory, greenhouse, caravan or shed will quickly begin to suffer from heatstroke and can die an agonising death. On a warm day these places can resemble an oven and each year dogs left alone like this die after literally being cooked alive.”

“Owners must realise there is no safe way to leave a dog like this in warm weather. Even when the weather is not particularly hot, dogs can suffer from heatstroke as up to 90 per cent of their body is covered in hair. Leaving windows open and a bowl of water is not enough.”

Taking out a comprehensive pet insurance policy could cover the veterinary costs of your pet suffering from heatstroke, but prevention is far better than cure.

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