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Hound heat: June spike in the number of dogs left in hot Calgary cars

The heatwave that gripped Calgary this week had some unfortunate consequences for dogs and other animals.

According to Calgary Police Service statistics, in the first week of June from May 31 onwards, there were 19 incidents of animals in distress after being left in a hot vehicle. With one of those 19 events involving a cat.

In the entire month of June 2020, CPS responded to 31 incidents involving an animal left in a hot car.

The city is already over half of last year’s number of incidents in less than a week.

CHS concerns

The heatwave experienced in the first meteorological week of summer likely had a hand to play in the increase. Nonetheless, the number of cases is worrying to Calgary Human Society (CHS) operations manager Brad Nichols.

“Usually, in June, we educate, but here we are now in the middle of a mini-heatwave. If we find an animal at this stage, they’re coming out. That can result in legal consequences for the owner,” Nichols said.

June is a time for Calgarians to relearn the need for protecting their pet from the heat. More importantly, not leaving them in hot environments like a car.

Nichols said that several methods are within the rights of the humane society to get an animal out of a situation they believe to be dangerous.

“On a day like today that’s 30 plus degrees, it’s a no brainer. We will take the animal out of the vehicle, through getting the door unlocked by the fire department if we have the time, or breaking the window,” Nichols said.

As the issue of people leaving animals in their vehicles continues to be a problem, some vehicle manufacturers are trying to find ways of solving the issue.

‘Dog mode

Tesla unveiled an “animal mode” or “dog mode” in their vehicles back in 2019.

The vehicle enters a standby state while the owner is away, and it cannot rise above a safe temperature for the animal inside. It also includes a sentry mode that alerts the owner on their phone if there are potential threats. If the battery on the vehicle runs below 20 per cent, a notification will alert the owner to return to their vehicle.

This seems like an easy workaround to allow people to keep their dogs in their cars without the consequences. But Nichols said that this shouldn’t be used as a crutch by people.

“As with AC, tech can fail so I would be skeptical.  My message would remain, don’t leave animals in vehicles unattended in hot weather,” Nichols said.

Both CHS and CPS don’t have any records of having run-ins with Tesla vehicles and the dog mode feature.