A CHARITY has explained what members of the public should do if they spot a dog trapped in a car during periods of hot weather.

The GEM Road Safety Charity has also warned dog owners from leaving animals in the car in such conditions, reminding them that it's illegal.

It comes as the region is set to bask in a mini-heatwave this weekend as some areas will see temperatures hit 24c - a big difference from the weather earlier this month.

Read more: North East to be hit with mini-heatwave ( here's how hot it will get in your area)

The charity, which has warned of big penalties to those thinking about leaving their pet inside the car during hot weather, has said those found guilty can even be jailed.

It has advised dog owners to leave their beloved animals at home if possible on days where the weather is particularly hot to avoid any problems.

What to do if you spot a dog in distress 

The charity is advising dog owners and members of the public to look out for distressed dogs in other cars during the spell of hot weather.

It said if you spot a dog in a hot car outside a supermarket or service station, you should record the vehicle type and registration and ask for an announcement to be made.

If the owner doesn’t come back to the car and you cannot locate them, you should call the police on 999.

Can you smash a car window

But the RSPCA has addressed whether or not you should break a car window if you see a dog in distress, saying if you do, then you could still face the brunt of the law.

It said: "If the situation becomes critical for the dog and the police are too far away or unable to attend, many people's instinct will be to break into the car to free the dog.

"If you decide to do this, please be aware that without proper justification, this could be classed as criminal damage and, potentially, you may need to defend your actions in court."

The RSPCA advises you to tell the police what you intend to do and why, take pictures or videos of the dog and the names and numbers of witnesses to the incident.

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 (section 5(2)(a) Criminal Damage Act 1971).

Advice for dog owners 

As previously mentioned, it is advised dog owners leave their beloved animals at home if possible on days where the weather is particularly hot.

But the charity has said if your pet must travel with you, then you should follow the following steps, while never allowing them to remain in a hot car.

- Make sure they have plenty of fresh drinking water and a bowl to help keep them cool on a long journey.

- On long journeys make sure to stop more often than normal to let your dog get some fresh air and take them to a shady spot to cool down if possible.

It adds that if your dog starts showing signs of heatstroke, such as excessively panting, constantly drinking or getting a fever, you should take them to a vet immediately.

What the RSPCA has said

Jude Clay from the RSPCA said: “All too often, owners make the mistake of thinking that it is sufficient to leave a bowl of water or a window open for their pet but this is not enough to protect your pet from heatstroke, which can have fatal consequences.  The RSPCA’s message is: ‘Dogs die in hot cars. Don’t leave your dog alone in a car.”

What the charity said

Explaining the legal repercussions of leaving a dog in a hot car Neil Worth, chief executive at GEM Road Safety Charity, said a jail term can also carry a £20,000 fine.

He said: “If the dog becomes ill or dies, you are likely to face a charge of animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

“This offence can bring a prison sentence of up to six months and/or a fine of up to £20,000.”


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