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Dogs Can Die in Hot Cars

KC guidance to Show Secretaries regarding dogs in hot cars

When the temperature is in the high 70s and 80s outside, a parked car quickly becomes unbearably hot inside within minutes, even in the shade and even with the windows left open a few inches. If the car is parked in the sun, the inside temperature can quickly reach 160 degrees.

As humane societies, law enforcement agencies, and local media constantly warn pet owners, in just 5 minutes, the temperature inside a car even with the windows cracked can reach 100 degrees or more. In just 10 minutes, the temperature inside a car can reach 120 degrees or more. The dog has a fur coat designed to retain heat, and he cannot sweat when he is overheated. As the inside temperature rises, the dog's body temperature has also risen, and he may have just minutes to live. If not rescued, he will suffer heatstroke, leading to collapse, brain damage, and an agonizing death. 

Danger signals of overheating, whether from being in a parked car or excessive exercise in heat are the following: Obvious distress, staggering, heavy panting to eventually struggling to breathe, excessive drooling, vomiting, glassy eyes, dark red to blue or purple gums and tongue, collapse, seizures, and coma.

The Kennel Club is committed to the protection of dogs from the fatalities of hot cars and would urge all dog owners and exhibitors not to leave dogs in cars on hot days.

The following guidelines are published regularly in the Kennel Gazette and The Kennel Club would like to remind Show Secretaries of the following:-

  • Show Executive may consider identifying exhibitor’s cars by printing each exhibitor’s ring number on prepaid car park labels.

  • A notice should be published in the schedule and in a prominent place in car parks, stating that remedial action will be taken in the event of dogs left in cars being found in a distressed condition.

  • Arrangements should be made with RSPCA Officers or police authorities to patrol car parks to inspect cars/vans for dogs left in cars or vans.

  • When dogs are found in a distressed condition, an announcement should be made on the Public Address System, giving details of the dog involved, its breed, make and registration number of vehicle and the name of the owner or kennel if known. A time limit should be given of say 5-10 minutes, before further action is taken.

  • If there is no response within the time limit a Veterinary surgeon should be called. If, in the opinion of the Vet, the condition of the dog allows for a final call being made on the Public Address System, then this should be done.

  • If a dog is in a distressed condition and there has been no response, a Show Official should take appropriate action

It is considered that the act of causing suffering to a dog as a result of it being left in a car by an exhibitor or the owner of a registered dog on a hot day could be considered discreditable and prejudicial to the interests of the canine world and could form the basis of a case under Kennel Club Rule A42.

Whenever possible the evidence of the suffering should be provided by a Veterinary surgeon or by an RSPCA Official but, in the absence of such expert opinion, the evidence of experienced and responsible dog owners will be acceptable. Show Secretaries and individuals are asked to make reports, where appropriate, so that alleged offenders can be asked to account for their actions.