Aussie dog owner's controversial act highlights 'dangerous misconception'

A seemingly innocent photo of an Aussie blue heeler sitting in the passenger seat of a ute has highlighted a “dangerous misconception” about leaving pets in hot cars — even for just a few minutes.

A man from Far North Queensland posted the image online last week, saying he “hates coming out to a hot car” so his dog rides shotgun. “So I can just leave the windows down (keys on the floor) to run into the shop or get fuel … ain’t nobody going near my car!” he said.

While numerous Facebook users said they “do the same thing” and shared photos of their own heelers, other Aussies warned it was “way too hot” in the state over the summer months to leave a dog in the car.

Aussie dog owner's controversial act highlights 'dangerous misconception' Source: Facebook
Aussie dog owner's controversial act highlights 'dangerous misconception' Source: Facebook

“I don't know about elsewhere but here in Cairns in FNQ, if you leave your dog in your car on a hot day, you are guaranteed your car and dog will have its pic on [Facebook] and the owner will be shamed endlessly. Measures of course will he taken to remove the dog,” one person said. “Be careful though you still may get in trouble from police for leaving doggo in car,” another warned.

The man explained that he grew up in the area and was “well aware of the risk factors of leaving a dog in a hot car”.

“The general rule in our house is the dogs don’t travel in the car in day time/hot days if the car will be stopped anywhere long,” he explained. “If by chance they are in the car and I have to leave them for more than 2 or 3 minutes, I leave the car/aircon running. Yes there’s always a bottle of water and bowl in the car also.”

Cracking a window a 'dangerous misconception'

The temperature inside a car “can increase rapidly, even on moderately warm days, and become much hotter than the outside temperature”, a spokesperson for the Animal Welfare League of QLD told Yahoo News Australia. “This can happen within minutes, making it unsafe for any pet to be left inside a car.”

“Many people think cracking the windows helps, but it doesn’t significantly reduce the temperature inside a car. It’s a dangerous misconception. Dogs are particularly susceptible to heatstroke since they do not sweat like humans. Overheating can lead to serious health issues and, in severe cases, death.”

The safest approach is never to leave dogs unattended in a car, regardless of the weather, they added.

Dog owners who leave their pet in a hot car for even a few minutes can face maximum fines of $40,000 and a year in jail, under the state’s animal cruelty laws. In extreme circumstances, if an animal is harmed in such an incident, offenders face a maximum penalty of $266,900 or three years imprisonment.

What to do if you see a dog in a hot car:

  • Determine the dog’s condition. If the dog appears distressed or unresponsive, it’s necessary to take immediate action.

  • Note the car’s make, model, colour, and license plate number. Contact the local police or RSPCA, as they have the authority and capability to respond effectively.

  • If possible, stay with the dog until help arrives.

  • Avoid taking drastic measures like breaking car windows; this could be both illegal and potentially harmful. Authorities are equipped to handle the situation appropriately.

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