Pets in Cars

Is it illegal to leave your pet in the car?

Leaving a cat or dog in a parked car is undoubtedly dangerous no matter the outside temperature or for how long the pet is left. This sort of reckless indifference is largely frowned upon by the wider society but what does the law say? Does the law provide protection for your favourite pooch or is it apathetic to their needs?

The Dangers

There are common misconceptions relating to both the legal obligation and relative danger surrounding leaving pets unattended. More and more evidence is being brought forward that suggests the dangers extend beyond what most people understand.

No matter the time of year, a parked car, especially left in the sun, will heat up. It becomes essentially a live oven, which is no place for a pet. The internal temperature can rise so high, even to double the outside temperatures.

People think that cracking the windows slightly will be enough, but it has been unequivocally proven that this action hardly lowers the temperature, if at all.

These temperatures may seem inconsequential to people, just mildly uncomfortable. Animals however, particularly dogs, are at a far greater risk. When a human gets hot, we begin to sweat. The excreting of this liquid lowers our body temperature and we cool. Dogs however don’t sweat, they pant. This method is satisfactory in most conditions however in a hot car, dogs are unable to cool off properly as their tongue cannot act as the cooling medium required.

The law

The role of the law is to protect and balance the rights of society and the individual. It is

undeniable that there are dangers associated with leaving pets unattended in cars so how does the law protect these innocent animals?

Let’s cut to the chase, there is no specific law that outlines that you cannot leave your dog in a parked car. This isn’t to say however that there aren’t other avenues of protection available.

By extending the understanding of other laws protections can be found. Animal cruelty laws can extend to protect animals left in these vulnerable positions and similarly duty of care can be considered.

There is a second level of legal protection added through creating illegalities making leaving a pet in a car even harder to conscionably do. It is an offence to leave the window of your car cranked by more than 5cm if you are over 3 meters away from the vehicle. That’s right you heard correctly.

Although it may seem ludicrous, this rule provides protection in this area as if one chooses to recklessly leave their beloved pet in the car, people reporting the incident have another ground for complaint to justify legal action.

This does lead to the final question in the law surrounding this issue, can you smash a window to rescue an animal.

The short answer is simply no. Wilfully damaging property for any purpose is generally illegal, no matter how noble your intentions.

So, what can you do?

In these situations, it is often easy to feel bleak at your prospects but there are still avenues to pursue. Primarily, emergency services. Multiple sources confirm that a dog in a car in great risk of heatstroke and other such problems warrants a call to services that can extract them.

Your next port of call is the surrounding building that the owner is likely in. An announcement over the grocery shop speakers may be the words that get through to the owner and brings them to the attention of their pet. The most important thing is that you remain calm and around the situation ready to adapt and help in any capacity.

It is clear to see that leaving a pet in a locked car is dangerous. Even in what may seem like cooler temperatures, there are a plethora of risks associated making such a choice unwise. The law however doesn’t provide any strict rules against such practises. All hope isn’t lost though for through extension of other laws, protection can be put in place to ensure that all parties remain safe and well. So, when you next drop into the shops and think of leaving your dog in the car, don’t do it.