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Scorching weather causes animal safety concerns

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

As temperatures are peaking over 40 degrees with the humidity, several organizations have delivered a clear message – don’t leave pets in the car.

According to Durham Police, officers were recently called to a plaza on Victoria Street East in Whitby for reports of a dog in distress inside a vehicle during extremely hot weather.

Witnesses told police the dog had been left in the car for about an hour with the windows rolled down three inches.

The officers were able to free the dog without breaking a car window, and later issued the owner a ticket for causing an animal to be in distress.

Residents are asked to leave pets at home when running errands on days with high humidity levels.

The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Ontario SPCA) and Human Society is sharing a similar message.

Jennifer Bluhm, acting chief of animal protection with the Ontario SPCA and Human Society, says on even relatively mild days or when parked in the shade, temperatures in cars can quickly reach deadly levels for animals.

“If you can’t take your pet with you when you leave your car, leave them at home where they are safe,” Bluhm says.

However, caution is needed not only on the road but at home as well.

Bluhm says pets should only be left outdoors for short periods, and when outside, given sufficient water, and a cool, sheltered location out of direct sunlight to avoid heatstroke.

“Use caution when exercising or playing with your pet during heat waves to prevent heat exhaustion,” she adds. “We recommend going for walks in the early morning or evening when it’s cooler.”

Certain types of dogs, such as Northern breeds or short-muzzled dogs, can face even greater difficulty dealing with extreme heat.

Also, pets that are older, overweight, or suffering from certain medical conditions are also more susceptible to heat exposure.

Anyone who encounters a pet in distress due to heat or other reasons is asked to contact their local police service or call Ontario’s animal cruelty hotline at 1-833-9ANIMAL.