The recent death of a dog in Gibsons has raised concerns with the local SPCA, which is asking the public to be more aware when they leave their pets in vehicles this summer.
A woman who saw the incident told Coast Reporter when she saw the dog left in a hot vehicle in Lower Gibsons, she asked the owners to open the windows wider for the large, short-haired dog that was panting inside a blue Jeep Cherokee.
"They said they were going to be only 10 minutes and one window was cracked about an inch, so I carried on doing work in my yard and then went inside," said the woman, who lives in Lower Gibsons.
The owners, whom SPCA worker Karen Holland thinks were from out of town, did not return to the vehicle for two hours.
"When I came back out from my house, the dog was draped over the seat," said the woman.
The dog had allegedly died, and the woman said the owners wrapped the dog in a beach towel and put it in the trunk before rushing for the ferry in Gibsons.
Holland is seeking more information about the incident. She asks anyone who saw the vehicle on Saturday, July 24, to contact the local SPCA at 604-740-0301.
"The woman who saw it didn't get a licence plate number. If anyone has that information, it would really help," said Holland.
She noted the Sunshine Coast SPCA gets numerous calls during the summer months of dogs left in cars and said people don't realize their canines can actually die from the heat.
"Even if the temperature feels comfortable to you, the problem is that a car acts like a greenhouse allowing heat to build up inside, even with the windows partially open. Temperatures inside a vehicle can very quickly reach well over 38 degrees Celsius," she said.
Dogs don't have sweat glands and can cool off only by panting, which Holland said is not the most effective way to cool off.
Dogs left in vehicles, even for a short time in the hot summer months, can tolerate the heat for only a short while before suffering irreparable brain damage or death due to heatstroke.
"Symptoms of heatstroke include exaggerated panting or sudden stopping of panting, salivation, anxious or staring expression, weakness and muscle tremours, lack of coordination, red tongue and lips, which may then turn bluish, convulsions or vomiting, collapse, coma and death," said Holland.
If you suspect your dog is suffering from heat stroke, Holland said you should move the animal to a cool, shady place, wet the dog with cool water, but not cold water as it restricts blood flow, and fan the dog vigorously.
Dogs left in the back of pick-up trucks in the sun are also in danger, said Holland. The pads on their feet can burn from the heat in the metal truck beds and the lack of shade can cause heatstroke.
If you see an animal left in a vehicle and are concerned, please contact the Sunshine Coast SPCA at their emergency number, 604-212-0060.