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They died a long, slow, agonising death

RSPCA inspectors have urged owners not to leave their pets in hot cars and share harrowing stories of dogs dying.

The RSPCA is issuing a fresh appeal to pet owners not to leave their dogs in cars or caravans as temperatures are set to soar to 31C this week.

The animal welfare charity had more than 100 calls over the weekend from members of the public concerned about dogs in hot environments - including cars, caravans, conservatories and sheds - as temperatures climbed.

On Saturday and Sunday (16 and 17 July), the RSPCA’s 24-hour emergency line had 106 reports of dogs left in hot environments and the influx of calls has prompted the charity to reissue its appeal to owners never to leave their pet unattended in a vehicle when it’s warm.

Inspector Justin Stubbs shared his harrowing experience of seeing dogs who have died in hot cars following the deaths of three dogs this summer. And the animal charity expects many more emergency calls to dogs left in vehicles over the coming weeks.

“They died a long, slow, agonising death”

In an open letter to dog owners, inspector Stubbs writes: “This summer we have already seen the deaths of three dogs, left in a car. The weather was overcast, and if you believe weather forecasts, not hot. But it was warm, it was humid, Met Office records show the temperature in the area ranged from 16-19 degrees for the period of time the dogs were left, they also show high humidity levels, these three dogs tragically died.

“They died a long, slow, agonising death.

“No one leaves their dogs in a car to die on purpose. I deal with pets in cars every week as it is not just dogs that are left, and the majority of the time the owners return with attitude. A few apologise, listen to advice, and probably change their way of doing things. Still too many, however, believe their pets are fine, the weather isn't or wasn't hot, they insist the RSPCA and onlookers are overreacting. They tell me how the dogs are better looked after than themselves. Then when we've reached the end of the conversation, they get in their car and without exception, every time, they drive off with their windows down and/or air conditioning on.

“There is NO good reason to bring your dog out in your car in warm weather and leave it while you go to do your shopping, doctor's appointment, or visit the pub. Sadly, our inspectors anecdotally report it is often older owners who are the most commonly found to leave the dogs in a car.

“I can’t unsee the terrible things I have seen.

“Myself and my fellow inspectors at the RSPCA are used to dealing with all aspects of animal cruelty but to witness a dead dog in a hot car is particularly harrowing. When you go home at night, it is hard to put out of your mind that they would have slowly stifled to death, gasping for air. When a dog is left in a car for a prolonged period of time their skin blisters and they suffocate. It’s hard to think of anything worse.

“So any dog owners out there this summer, I would ask please never leave your dog in the car, there is really no excuse.”

The RSPCA teamed up with Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Blue Cross, British Veterinary Association (BVA), Dog’s Trust, The Kennel Club, The Mayhew Animal Home, National Animal Welfare Trust, The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), PDSA, #TeamOtisUK and Wood Green The Animals Charity earlier this month to launch this year’s ‘Dogs Die in Hot Cars’ campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of leaving dogs - and other pets - in hot environments.

For more information on what to do if you see a dog in a hot car, please visit the RSPCA’s website.

If you would like to help the RSPCA, you can give £3 now by texting HELP to 78866 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).

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