The air temperature outside the van was approximately 28 C (82.4 F) and for 90 minutes seven dogs inside were struggling as the temperature steadily rose higher in the vehicle and if not rescued soon it would not be a good outcome.
Fortunately, a passerby alerted the Charlottetown Police Services and the P.E.I Humane Society and the dogs were rescued. The owners of the out of province van parked it on Prince Street Monday and had draped a shield over some of the windows, but a humane society inspector who was at the scene said it offered very little in the way of shade.
Studies have shown that when the air temperature reaches 28 C outside the vehicle it can be 42 C inside (109 F).
A witness at the scene saw some of the people arguing over whose responsibility it was to look after the animals. The medium sized dogs were seized and taken to a veterinarian where they received medical help and then returned to their owners, said Geoff Barrett, animal protection officer with the humane society.
“We did seize the dogs and they were checked by a veterinarian before they were returned to the owners after payment of some fees.” He said there will be no legal action taken against the family.
Barrett said it is “very unsafe to leave dogs in hot cars because the car can heat up so quickly and can go up 15 degrees in a matter of about five or 10 minutes…and because dogs don’t have the ability to sweat to keep themselves cool as humans do it becomes very dangerous very fast.” He said people would not leave their children in hot cars and the same should apply for animals.
With the heat of summer finally arriving, Barrett said the humane society has had recent reports of animals left in hot cars and fortunately there have been no serious injuries. But with the high heat that can quickly change.
He said if anyone sees an animal in distress in a parked car the best approach would be to call police or humane society at any time of the day or night.
According to the AccuWeather website, short-wave energy from the sun enters vehicles through the relatively transparent nature of their windows. The internal objects in the automobile heat the air inside and give off long-wave energy, which is not able to escape from the vehicle.
Children and animals are less able to handle this extreme heat than adults and are more susceptible to hyperthermia.
Hyperthermia, a medical emergency when the body produces or absorbs more heat that is can dissipate, can lead to brain damage, kidney failure and death.
Experts say that even leaving the windows open a little is of little help in keeping the interior cool.