Waterloo regional police say officers have already responded to eight calls for pets left in vehicles in July.

Experts say it’s a common problem that doesn’t seem to get better.

“We keep having to remind people about the dangers of leaving pets in cars,” said Calla James, director, community engagement & outreach with the Humane Society of Kitchener Waterloo and Stratford Perth. “Even when temperatures appear to be mild, they are not inside a vehicle, even with a window cracked."

According to Provincial Animal Welfare Services, with an outdoor temperature of only 25 C, the inside temperature of a car can reach 34 C in as little as 10 minutes and up to 50 C by the time an hour has passed. Examples of visible signs of distress that may indicate heat stroke in animals include excessive panting, increased drooling, weakness, muscle twitching and vomiting.

“If an animal cannot come with you, the safest place for them is to be left at home,” James said.

James said leaving the animal in the vehicle with the air conditioning running is not enough as sometimes that can malfunction and turn off.

“We have seen car batteries die, we've seen AC fail and that pet is left in a very dangerous situation. So there really is no excuse,” James said.

James suggests if you can’t leave the animal at home, bring someone along who can let the animal out of the vehicle when making stops, or be sure to visit pet-friendly stores.

“These just are not reasons to leave a pet in a vehicle because even though you've done that a temperature can reach very high temperatures and quickly,” James said.

Animal cruelty is enforced provincially in Ontario, but city bylaw officers along with local fire and police services are often the ones to remove an animal in distress from a vehicle. They also have the authority to break into vehicles if needed.

“Within the fire services of Waterloo bylaw, they do have extradition authorities and they would act on behalf of the province in order to do that,” said Nicole Papke, director of municipal enforcement services with the City of Waterloo.
Local pet owners said they are always looking for ways to keep their pets cool when they bring an animal outside.

“We usually pick dog friendly options. There's a lot of great local businesses around that have a window for pickup,” said Emma Boyd, a dog owner.

Boyd said choosing to order things like groceries online has allowed her to stay in the vehicle with her nine-month-old golden doodle.

“We find that really helpful. Just roll down the windows and he can kind of enjoy what we're doing,” Boyd said.

“If I'm not going to be in the car, I take her out with me,” Jan Richards, another dog owner said. “I think it's horrible, because it even if you leave the window open a crack, it gets too hot in there for them. And she's so tiny, I can't imagine how long she'd last.”

Anyone who sees an animal in a hot car in distress should call 911 immediately and not attempt to enter a vehicle in these situations.