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What is the law on leaving your dog in a hot car?

The temperatures in the UK have been rising this week up and above 30 degrees. People tend to forget that your car can become very hot on a summer day, even when it doesn’t feel that warm. For example, if the temperature is 22 degrees on the outside, your car can actually reach a temperature of 47 degrees.

The Big Car Buyer and his team are all dog lovers and we hate to think of a dog being left in a car to suffer in such high-temperature conditions. So what should you do if you see a dog left in a hot car?

The first thing you would need to do is establish the dog’s health and condition from outside the car. If they’re displaying any signs of heatstroke, then instantly dial 999 and shout up for help.

A common question asked is whether it is legal to break the door glass to free a dog. It would be very tempting to do so but if you decide to carry out this process, please be aware that without proper justification, this could be classed as criminal damage.

If you have made a decision that the only way to free the dog is to break the glass, then make sure you tell the police over the phone what you intend to do and why. We would also recommend that you take pictures or videos of the dog and the names and numbers of witnesses to the incident.

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

There may be instances where a dog is not showing signs of heatstroke so what should you do then? Here is a small checklist you can work against:

A. Is the dog showing any abnormal behaviour or signs of pain?

B. Is the vehicle showing a pay and display ticket to establish the time which the car was left?

C. Take a note of the registration of the vehicle. If the owner returns, but you still feel the situation was dangerous for the dog, you can report the incident to the police who will discuss this matter with the owner.

D. Either yourself or find someone who can stay with the dog to monitor their condition. If you think its been a while since they have been left you could report it by calling 101 or If they begin to display signs of distress or heatstroke, be prepared to dial 999.