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Shopper's 'cruel' car park act called out by furious woman

The RSPCA says there is 'no excuse' for leaving animals unattended in cars.

Pet owners are being reminded about the dangers of leaving animals locked inside cars, even on mild days, as doing so can cause significant distress and health complications.

The message comes following an incident at Warringah Mall in Sydney's north on Monday — when temperatures reached about 28 degrees and a woman allegedly left her dog unattended while she shopped for up to 40 minutes.

A woman named Claire told Yahoo News Australia she was sitting in her car in the undercover car park when a vehicle pulled up beside her. The woman got out and locked the car, leaving her shaggy dog sitting in the back seat alone, she claimed.

"Myself and my mother waited till she got back," the Manly resident told Yahoo. "It was around 3.15pm and she didn’t come back till just before 4pm".

Left: Blonde woman wearing white T-shirt returning to her car at Warringah Mall. Right: small brown dog sitting in back seat of car.
A woman was accused of leaving her dog in a car unattended while she shopped for up to 40 minutes. Source: Facebook

During that time, Claire said she called security who said they would attempt to contact the owner via a mobile number on the dog's harness. Claire also tried calling the RSPCA and police but claims not much could be done.

When she finally returned, Claire questioned the woman about leaving the animal — which she claims had been "panting and drooling" — unattended, but she just "laughed and scoffed" before "driving away as quick as possible". Yahoo News Australia also attempted to call the owner.

Woman called out on social media

Claire snapped pictures of the pup — which looks similar to a labradoodle — before sharing them on Facebook. She criticised the owner, also pictured, for her "absolute irresponsibility and disgusting behaviour", calling her an "absolute d**khead". "People like you should not own animals," she blasted on social media.

Fiery debate erupts over treatment of dog

While many agreed the woman's actions were "absolutely awful," a debate erupted in the comments over whether or not the act was wrong — because the car was undercover and likely cool enough.

"The car is undercover for one, and two the dog doesn't look hot and distressed at all," one argued suggesting the animal didn't appear to be hot. Another who claimed to know the dog owner said the pet is "very spoiled and happy". They also implied the woman's car "has an aircon function which allows the air-conditioning to run when the engine is not running".

However, some doubled down agreeing it's "simply disgusting" and "cruel" to leave the dog. "Undercover or not you don't lock a baby in a car, you don't lock an animal in a car ... no excuse," one wrote.

Small brown dog sitting in back of black car with tongue out.
A witness said the dog had been 'panting and drooling'. Source: Facebook

RSCPA warns of dangers of leaving pets in cars

An RSPCA spokesperson advised Yahoo News Australia that no record of Claire's call was made. But said no matter the location or the temperature outside, leaving a dog inside a car unattended is "always dangerous".

"There is no excuse to leave your dogs locked in cars unattended," they added. Even on mild days, temperatures in a car can "rapidly heat up" and can reach "double" the outside temperature.

"When it’s 22 degrees Celsius outside, the inside of a car can reach a stifling 47 degrees and this is no environment for a dog," the spokesperson said.

"Dogs cool themselves through panting and are particularly at risk of heat stress in a hot car. If the air around them is too hot, and there is no access to cool water, dogs cannot lower their body temperature back to where it should be.

"If the dog is heat distressed, this is considered an act of cruelty, and our inspectors can investigate. Symptoms of heat stress in dogs include panting, drooling and restlessness. Over time, they can become weak, and their gum colour can change. They may also begin to stagger and experience vomiting, diarrhoea or seizures."

What to do if you see an animal in distress

Aussies who come across a pet in distress and cannot locate the owner are encouraged to contact local police or RSPCA NSW on 1300 278 3589 (1300 CRUELTY) as soon as possible and request assistance.

You should note down the car’s make, model and licence plate number or if you have your phone nearby, take a picture of it and, if you can, stay with the dog until help arrives.

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