It only takes a few minutes for conditions in a sealed car to become dangerous for dogs locked inside on a hot day.

Hot dogs in parked cars a looming issue

A growing push by Vancouver Island communities aims to give bylaw and animal control officers increased power

A growing push by Vancouver Island communities aims to give bylaw and animal control officers increased power to issue fines to owners who leave dogs in hot cars and take action to rescue animals if necessary.

Under B.C. law, RCMP intervention, or a special constable of the SPCA is needed before action can be taken to rescue the dog. But regulations adopted in Nanaimo last summer empower bylaw enforcement officers to respond to complaints, determine if rescue action is necessary and slap offenders with a $500 fine, the heftiest on the Island.

According to SPCA animal protection and outreach officer Erika Paul, Nanaimo is not unique in its bid to improve regulations. The Capital Regional District, Duncan and a majority of municipalities in the Greater Victoria area have all made recent changes aimed at improving the way they can respond to an animal in distress.

However, the key link is getting provincial laws changed so bylaw and animal control officers don’t have to wait for RCMP or the special SPCA constables to arrive to take action.

“Where it gets tricky for us, is we are not legally allowed to enter a vehicle. RCMP can, but we can’t,” Comox Valley SPCA manager Emily Priestley said. “So when we attend, we basically just monitor the situation, but if we think the animal is going into distress then we would have to call the RCMP.

According to bylaw manager Rod Davidson, Nanaimo’s regulations are made more effective by a policy of quick response.

“We don’t want a good Samaritan to take a rock and smash a window,” he said. “We’ve made it a priority  so if they get a call, they respond right away.”

Nanaimo officials determine whether a dog is in distress by measuring the interior temperature with a heat gun. The danger point in an unventilated car is set at 23 degrees. Paul said other communities have written bylaws allowing officers more discretion in deciding when an animal may be in distress.

“Each dog is different; the breed, weight, age — all of these things have to be taken into account,” she said.

With Island weather heating up again, officials are bracing for an uptick in calls. The SPCA recorded 34 across the Island in May, down slightly compared to the amount it received during last year’s extraordinary heat.

“Last year was a big one,” SPCA call centre manager Stephanie Sheffield said. “There has been a lot of news coverage and that helps.”

Few of the calls actually lead to the discovery of a dog in distress, but officials endorse a non-confrontational “better safe than sorry” approach with an eye on raising awareness and keeping tempers in check.

“Getting them to page the owner and getting them to return to the vehicle so the animal never gets to be in distress,” Sheffield said.

“People are so passionate about it,” Paul said. “Often when we do come, we spend a lot of time defusing the crowd.”

Davidson is OK with the fact that since the new Nanaimo bylaw was implemented Sept. 1, the city has yet to issue a fine. He said no one deliberately puts their pet in a dangerous situation. But circumstances sometimes lead people to make quick decisions they later regret. His advice is simple: if it’s hot, take your pet with you.

Vancouver-area MLA Selina Robinson has introduced a private members bill in a bid to get the provincial law changed.

Paul hopes the attention placed on the issue works to improve both regulations and public awareness.

“It’s unfortunate the topic is coming up every year. You wonder when it will get to a point where it’s unnecessary.”

with a file from Terry Farrell

john.mckinley@blackpress.ca

 

 

ANIMALS IN DISTRESS

Vancouver Island animals in hot car reports recorded by the BC SPCA.

May 2016: 34 (200 province-wide)

May 2015: 45 (246 province-wide)

May 2014: 17 (183 province-wide)

May 2013: 15 (118 province-wide)

 

Source: SPCA

 

 

Just Posted

Massive Monday morning fire destroys Chemainus home

Firemen on the scene at Waynes Road for several hours

Ladysmith Striders hand over Cinnamon Bun Fun Run to LRCA

The 12th annual Cinnamon Bun Fun Run raised $1,550 and and 3,000 lbs of food for the LRCA food bank.

Site C dam goes ahead, cost estimate now up to $10.7 billion

Premier John Horgan says Christy Clark left him no other choice

RCMP probe Canada Post mailbox thefts in Ladysmith, Chemainus

Local RCMP are investigating following numerous break-ins to several Canada Post mailboxes… Continue reading

Teen allegedly robs woman at gunpoint in Duncan

A Duncan teenager is facing charges after allegedly robbing a young woman… Continue reading

Smithers mayor loses bet, makes video on Ladysmith’s First Ave

Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach visited Ladysmith last week and caught up with… Continue reading

Ladysmith Kinsmen bonfire at Transfer Beach a go for Saturday night

Come on down to Transfer Beach on Saturday night and cozy on… Continue reading

B.C. teacher suspended after explicit images projected to class

Jeffrey Rohin Muthanna had been viewing porn on a school laptop for two years

Man who pledged to give B.C. hockey team millions charged with fraud

Mike Gould has since repaid $8,000 he allegedly owed Cranbrook restaurant, owner says

Strong economy fuels housing sales in B.C.: report

Economist says demand for houses is being supported by a large number of millennials entering the market

Tequila, hammers and knives: what not to bring on an airplane

Vancouver International Airport staff provide tips on travelling during the holidays

New fighter-jet competition to have national ‘economic interest’ requirement

Trudeau government wants to replace Canada’s aging CF-18s with 88 new fighters by as early as 2025

The top-binged shows on Netflix in 2017

Which show did you cheat on your spouse with by watching ahead?

B.C. polygamous leader argues charge should be dropped in charter challenge

Winston Blackmore argues some of the evidence shouldn’t be used against him

Most Read