What to do if you see a dog in a locked car

Author picture Jessica

Why is it so dangerous to leave a dog in a locked car?

It takes less than six minutes for a pet in a hot car to suffer heatstroke and die. Dogs pant to cool themselves down and regulate their internal body temperature. As it takes barely 10 minutes for the interior temperature of a car to double, a dog can die in less time than it takes to pop into the shops.

Dog sitting in car

Sadly, this is still a common occurrence, especially in the summer months. As such, it's essential to NEVER leave your pet in a locked car in summer. Furthermore, never leave your pet in the car even on a cloudy day, under shade or with the windows down, as they can still suffer from overheating. 

How do dogs get locked in cars?

A dog can get left in a car for longer than intended if its owner gets caught up running errands, or meets someone they know while they are out. However, this can also happen through human error, such as accidentally locking your keys in the car or excitable pets jumping and knocking internal locks.

How can I avoid locking my dog in the car?

Hopefully, this will never happen to you if you stay prepared and follow a few simple safety steps. Keep your dog safe by following these guidelines:

  • Leave the driver door ajar or window down when packing the boot or moving away from the car.
  • Place your keys in a clothes pocket or somewhere close to your body.
  • Keep your keys in the same safe place every time. Focus on where you put them, particularly when taking a phone call, loading the boot or placing a child in a car seat.
  • Don’t rush because another driver is waiting for the parking space.

What should I do when I see a dog locked in a car?

If you ever see a dog locked in a car, move extra fast as time is of the essence.

Here is a simple breakdown of what to do:

  • First, check if any of the doors are unlocked.
  • Make a quick note of the car’s make, model and license plate number. You can also snap a picture with your smartphone.
  • Call the police on 999 - they may also get in touch with the RSPCA.
  • Notify any businesses nearby, or if in a shopping centre, notify ground staff and security. They may be able to track down the owner.
  • Once you have notified the authorities, wait by the car for help to arrive.
  • The dog should go to the vet for emergency treatment. Don’t try to cool the dog down too rapidly with ice packs or loose ice. Instead, water, damp towels and shade are preferred.

Poodle sitting in car with door open

If you have to bring your dog with you, try to visit dog-friendly locations where they can join you. Alternatively, secure your dog in a shaded, safe spot outside of the car. The best option of all is to leave your dog at home where you know they will be safe and happy.

If you need to run around and do your shopping, why not use a Pawshake pet sitter? That way they can relax and stay cool, and you don't need to worry. Simply enter your suburb in the search bar to see who is nearby in your community!