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There is a dog in a vehicle that appears hot and distressed – what should I do?

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This does depend on the level of distress. It is not advisable to force entry to the vehicle yourself:

Call the RSPCA

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 then call the police if it is necessary to break into the car.

If the matter is getting near life or death

If the matter is getting near life or death for the animal, call the police directly on 101 and ask for an estimated time of arrival.

If the police don't have time to get there, you have to decide whether you should take action.

What does the law say?

The law states that you have a lawful excuse to commit damage if:

...At the time of the act or acts alleged to constitute the offence you believed that the person or persons whom you believe to be entitled to consent to the destruction of or damage to the property in question... would so consent to it if s/he...had known of the destruction or damage and its circumstances.’

Section 5(2)(a), Criminal Damage Act 1971. Note this legal reference is slightly modified for clarity

Do not break into a vehicle unless you are certain of your ground and you are prepared to defend your actions at court.

Advice for dog owners

Owners have a legal duty of care for their animals. Leaving your dog in a hot car could make them seriously ill or even kill them as a result of the intense heat in vehicles.

We recommend dog owners follow the advice on the RSCPA website for caring for dogs in warm weather.