For the second time in a week in B.C., would-be rescuers smashed in the window of a vehicle to save a dog from overheating, only to discover what they’d seen was actually a stuffed animal.
The Langley Animal Protection Society and Langley RCMP were called out to the Willowbrook Shopping Centre parking lot Wednesday afternoon, after a bystander saw the driver place what appeared to be a white poodle in the back of a red SUV underneath a privacy screen, said Jayne Nelson, director of LAPS.
Two other women reported hearing a dog barking and whining, then go silent. They figured it had been inside the vehicle for about 30 minutes.
The temperature was hovering around 30 degrees at the time.
Based on this information, RCMP decided to smash in the window of the SUV. Inside, they found one large and two smaller stuffed animals.
“They did look through the whole vehicle just to ensure that they hadn’t missed anything, that the animal hadn’t managed to crawl away under the seat or something, but there was no dog in the car,” Nelson said.
“That’s a good outcome. It’s unfortunate, but we were happy there was no dog in distress inside the vehicle.”
Despite the incident being a false alarm, Nelson still recommends people call in if they think an animal is in distress, especially with the current heat wave in the Lower Mainland.
Environment Canada has issued a hot weather warning, saying the region faces “a prolonged stretch of well above normal temperatures (that) is expected to persist into early next week.”
“Better safe than sorry, and sometimes it can be hard to tell from long distances,” Nelson said.
“Unfortunately, this still happens, people are still leaving their pets inside of cars, and we are still responding to calls. We are definitely encouraging people to take the ‘no hot pet pledge.’ Keep your pets at home where they are safe and comfortable.”
On Saturday, a similar incident happened in Victoria, where, on the advice of police, a couple smashed in the window of a car thinking a dog was dead or dying inside.
The dog turned out to be a stuffed toy named Rory.
As of July 3, the BC SPCA reported that it had received 460 calls about dogs locked in hot cars.
The organization does not recommend that bystanders break the windows of vehicles to release the pets in distress. Only RCMP, local police and the BC SPCA Special Constables can lawfully enter a vehicle to help a pet.
If you do see an animal in distress, call a local animal control agency, police, or the BC SPCA hotline at 1-855-622-7722. Note the licence plate, vehicle colour, make and model, and ask nearby businesses to page for the vehicle owner.
In Langley, the Langley Animal Protection Society can be alerted at 604-857-5055.
According to Mountain View Veterinary Hospital in Langley, when outside temperatures are at 21 degrees Celsius, it takes only 10 minutes for a car to heat up to 31.6 degrees, and 30 minutes to heat up to 40 degrees.
And on a hot summer day in the Lower Mainland, outside temperatures of 29 degrees can heat up a car to 40 degrees in only 10 minutes, and 48.3 degrees in 30 minutes.
Temperatures this hot can cause heat stroke, brain damage or even death to pets locked inside.
To help combat this issue, the vet hospital has launched a “Keep Pets Cools Campaign” to encourage businesses to let pet owners bring their furry friends inside.
Mountain View is offering free window signs to local businesses that would like to participate. Visit www.mountainviewveterinary.ca for more info.
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