Aussie dog owners issued urgent warning after disturbing find

A witness said her blood was boiling when she spotted the pet.

Aussies have been issued a desperate plea not to leave their pets in hot cars as temperatures spike across the country this weekend, after a small dog was found locked in a vehicle. Vet nurse Savanna Farrell came across the pup on Wednesday afternoon and snapped a photo of the pup looking out the front passenger window, which had been wound down a few centimetres.

"My blood was boiling, I was very angry and confused why people still do this," she told Yahoo News Australia, before explaining that the dog was a Boston terrier, "so it already has compromised breathing, due to small airways, in normal temperatures."

White four-wheel drive with dog looking through window (left) and a close-up of the dog (right)
Vet nurse Savanna Farrell came across the dog trapped in a hot car on Wednesday afternoon. Source: Savanna Farrell

'Your dog could be dead'

Farrell said she couldn’t leave the dog alone and after waiting 15-20 minutes outside Harris Farm in Manly on Sydney's Northern Beaches, she was just about to ring the police and break the window when the animal's owner returned. "I went right up to her as she put her groceries in the car and I said, 'Why did you leave your dog in a hot car?'" the vet nurse explained. "She said, 'I know, I know, I know,' and I said, 'Why? Your poor dog, you left it to boil'. She then kept saying, 'I know' and tried to dismiss me and as she walked around to get into her car I said, 'Next time you do this and come back to your car, your dog could be dead'."

It only takes moments

Explaining how high temperatures can cause an animal's organs to fail at different times, Dr Timothy Hopkins from the Small Animal Specialist Hospital said it can only take six minutes in the heat for a dog to get into serious trouble. "There is a wide array of disorders," he told Yahoo, "but usually these dogs will pass away from a combination of respiratory difficulties and direct neurological difficulties. That's why we are very keen to get the public aware of just how quickly things can get serious."

Hopkins also warned that meagre measures are not good enough. "What people have often done mistakenly is they'll slightly open a window or they'll park in the shade, but it doesn't matter," he said. "Even if it's 22 degrees outside it can still be 30 degrees inside the car so the best thing to do is just to avoid it altogether."

Dogs not just in danger when alone

With plenty of people planning road trips over the holiday season, the emergency vet is also reminding dog owners that the danger doesn't end just because the driver is in the car. "Remember a lot of dogs get stressed during transport, and the combination of stress, heat and humidity is really disastrous," he explained. "Especially for those brachycephalic breeds."

Hopkins is urging people to make sure their air conditioning is up to scratch before they let their pet into their vehicle, take regular breaks to let their pet out, and provide them with iced water or frozen chicken stock on road trips.

For anyone who fears their pet may be overheating and in strife, Hopkins recommends getting them to an emergency vet without delay. "Put cold water on the dog and get the dog into a car that's got the air conditioner blasting," he said. "You can put wet towels onto the dog for about five minutes, but after that point they're going to actually heat up and start to trap heat."

Take proactive measures as temps rise

With temperatures set to soar across the country this weekend, people are being urged to take proactive measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their pets with this advice from Petstock.

Shade and hydration: Ensure your pets have access to cool, shaded spots and a constant supply of clean, refreshing water.

Protect those paws: Before venturing out, use your hand to gauge if the ground is too hot for your pet's paws. Opt for morning or evening walks when the pavement is cooler or stick to walking on the grass where it won't be as hot.

Sun safety: Just like us, some pets can get sunburned. Ensure your pets' sensitive areas are shielded from harmful UV rays with pet-friendly sunscreen.

Stay cool: From cooling toys to wading pools and damp towels, there's an abundance of options to keep your pets entertained and refreshed.

Do you have a story tip? Email:

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube.