Is it illegal to leave your dog in a car on a hot day?

By 27th June 2017 Criminal Law No Comments

Even with a window left open, the temperature inside a car can quickly become as hot as an oven. When it’s 22 degrees outside, a car can reach an uninhabitable 47 degrees within 60 minutes.

Dog trapped in car

The US state of Nevada recently made the headlines for raising the penalty for leaving a pet in a hot, locked car to the same level as leaving a child in the same scenario. So what’s the law here in the UK?

The act of leaving a dog locked in a hot car isn’t actually an offence in itself, unless the dog became ill, or worse, died. This could result in being charged with the offence of animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

What to do if you see a dog trapped in a car on a hot day

If you see a dog trapped in a car on a hot day, the RSPCA advises dialling 999 to report it to the police. But what if the situation becomes critical, and the dog appears to be struggling – is it okay to smash the window?

The law states that you have a lawful excuse to commit damage if you believe that the owner of the property would consent to the damage if they knew the circumstances (section 5(2)(a) Criminal Damage Act 1971).

To avoid getting into trouble, make sure to inform the police of your intentions, and take footage or photos of the dog as well as contact details of any witnesses to the event.

The RSPCA’s 24-hour emergency cruelty line can be contacted on 0300 1234 999 for advice, but dialling 999 should always be the first step if a dog appears to be in danger.