Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dog 'cooked to death' in hot car

A dog left muzzled and restrained in a car on a Christchurch rooftop car park on a sunny day probably "cooked to death" in the heat, the Canterbury SPCA says. The SPCA is investigating the incident and says the owners could be fined up to $75,000 or jailed for up to three years if found responsible for the death.

SPCA manager Geoff Sutton said the little pomeranian, which had been harnessed to a seatbelt and tightly muzzled, was already dead by the time staff arrived at the car park in Shirley on Saturday afternoon. A dog or any animal trapped in a hot car would literally "cook" to death, he said.

"It cooks really, from the brain, the blood, every part of it. A dog doesn't sweat like you and I do. A dog can only cool itself down through panting."A dog also needed access to plenty of water and be in cool, fresh air to moderate its temperature.

He was reluctant to comment on the case until post-mortem results were returned and an official investigation was completed. However, the cause of the pomeranian's death was likely to be heart failure brought on by "severe heat stress".

Mr Sutton said that keeping a dog in a car while doing activities such as shopping, visiting friends or going to the beach was irresponsible. "This sort of behaviour is all too frequent and whenever it happens it is quite frankly stupid," he said.

"It's completely avoidable, it's completely unnecessary... a dog should only be transported in a car when it's going somewhere for the dog."However, putting a dog in a car was not an offence and the SPCA could only take action once the dog was in distress or pain.

"Nobody can really take preventative action other than the owner not taking it out in the first place. We will always respond if the dog is showing signs of distress but sometimes that's too late."

Animal neglect made him angry, he said. "Animals can't talk - they rely on us to provide them with all the things they need to have a safe and happy life."He pleaded with the public to look after their pets responsibly. "If the trip is not for the dog - don't take it. I don't know a simpler way of saying it," he said.


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