Civil Law

By Rachael Scott


Leaving your dog unattended in a hot car is animal cruelty.

As we head in to an inevitably hot Australian summer, there is a crucial point that needs to be made clear to every pet owner: do not leave your dog in the car.

It is tempting to leave your dog in the car, with the window down a little, and just quickly pop into the shop for “five minutes”. But the fact of the matter is that it is incredibly dangerous to an animal’s health to be left in such a hot environment for any period of time. We are all familiar with the sensation of being burnt by the hot leather, or the seatbelt, when our car has been left in the sun on a hot day, so why would you subject your animal to that environment?

Leaving your dog unattended in a hot car is animal cruelty.

Whilst the offence of leaving a dog in a car is not a crime in itself, it can be considered an act of animal cruelty, which IS illegal.  Animal Cruelty can be defined under section 6A of the Animal Welfare Act 1992 as anything that causes unjustifiable, unnecessary or unreasonable pain to an animal. This offence can carry a penalty of 100 penalty units, imprisonment for 1 year, or both.

The Deputy Register of Domestic Animal Services Julie Angove has urged that:

“Dogs can die from heat exhaustion and dehydration in a matter of minutes. As they have a coat, dogs only sweat through their paws, so can overheat very quickly. Even if you leave your car window open for your pet to receive fresh air, the heat inside a parked car could still seriously damage its health.”

If I see a dog in the car, what can I do?

If you see a dog that is locked in a car, and is clearly suffering, you should call the RSPCA or Emergency Services immediately.

This is a serious matter, and if you are planning to take your dog somewhere, knowing that you are going to be leaving them in the car for a period of time, don’t take them.