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Owners who lock pets in cars 'risk death', police warn as temperatures soar

By Gerald Lennon

The PSNI has warned pet owners against the potentially tragic risk of locking pets in hot cars.

In the recent heatwave temperatures in some parts of Northern Ireland have seen temperatures hit 31 degrees.

In a Facebook post, a PSNI spokesperson advised the inside of vehicles can "reach dangerous temperatures, resulting in your pet suffering needlessly and/or at the risk of dying".

This comes after an investigation was launched regarding the death of a pregnant terrier which had been left in a car during last Sunday's Irish Game Fair at Shane's Castle in Antrim.

It is believed the small black dog was left in the vehicle with the windows down and attempts were made to resuscitate it.

Following the incident the USPCA called on dog owners to have greater awareness during the summer months. 

The organisation said: "This charity constantly reminds owners of their duty of care towards companion animals in a typical summer, let alone a heatwave.

"When an animal suffers through negligence the owner is committing a criminal offence they should be prosecuted and if found guilty be banned from keeping animals."

The RSPCA website has said that a car can get "as hot as an oven very quickly" especially during heatwaves, and issued guidelines on spotting the symptoms of heatstroke in dogs.

These include:

  • Heavy Panting
  • Drooling
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Collapsing

Asking people to consider the welfare of their pets, the PSNI also warned "If police attend and find an animal in distress this may result in damage having to be caused to your vehicle and possible prosecution".

PSNI have said that if a member of the public observes an animal locked in a vehicle during the hot weather, they should contact the animal welfare officer in their local council. Police may be able to assist the animal welfare officer or pass on information.

Council animal welfare officers are responsible for enforcement of the Welfare of Animals (NI) Order 2011, as it applies to non-farmed animals. This applies to domestic pets such as dogs, cats, horses or donkeys, and others.

PSNI can act as per the Welfare of Animals Act, but unless it is fighting offences such as badger baiting/dog fighting, the council animal welfare officers are the first point of contact and the PSNI will offer some assistance if required.

If you do see an animal in distress please call the police on 101 or 999 as you see fit.

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