As the weather gets hotter, and with a rumoured heatwave on its way, the RSPCA is urging dog owners never to leave their dogs in a car.
In a video interview produced by the RSPCA, we meet Jonathan Theobald, who left his three dogs in a car in June 2016, with tragic consequences.
Jonathan’s story is truly heartbreaking. It was a warm day on 16 June 2016. It was overcast but wasn’t particularly hot. Jonathan drove to his local gym and went inside for his workout.
He left his three Staffordshire Bull Terrier crosses Daisy, Rascal and Mitch in the car for more than four hours.
When he returned to his car, Rascal and Mitch had already died from heat exposure. In great distress, Jonathan then spent half an hour desperately trying to revive Daisy before she finally succumbed to the heat.
Other gym users contacted the police and a vet and officers later found a devastated Jonathan at his home address with the dogs still inside the car and called in the RSPCA to investigate.
It’s very obvious that Jonathan still suffers regret over the split second lapse in judgement he made back in 2016. Not only has he lost his dogs, he and his wife are wracked with guilt and pain – “The house feels painfully empty, we don’t have dogs now and that’s my fault. My carelessness killed them”. The consequences for Jonathan include an 18-week prison sentence suspended for two years. He’s also been was disqualified from keeping animals for 10 years and was ordered to pay £1,900 in fines and costs.
What to do if you find a dog in a hot car
The first thing you should do is call 999. The RSPCA, along with other animal welfare charities is urging people to call the police immediately. Please do not call the RSPCA – the police are best placed to address an emergency situation Read more about what to do in this situation on our advice pages.
In 2016, the RSPCA’s emergency hotline received 7,187 calls about animals in hot environments – the majority of which were regarding dogs. While down from the previous year (8,779), the number is still worryingly high considering the charity’s key advice is for people to call 999.
Jonathan Theobald, who volunteered to film the video in the hopes of raising awareness of the dangers of leaving dogs in cars, added: “What message would I give to other dog owners? Be incredibly careful. The weather can change quickly and a car can become lethal, I’ve discovered that the hard way. If in doubt, leave your dogs at home.”
Remember, cars become very hot incredibly quickly, and can be fatally dangerous for a dog, even if they’re only left for a few minutes. Learn more about how quickly a car can become dangerously hot.