Dogs shut in hot stuffy car: resident calls police officers

"I couldn't ignore it... I could see how distressed the dogs were"

Semirah Darwin called the police when she saw two dogs barking frantically in a car on the roof of the Kau Sai Chau car park.

“I couldn’t ignore it, because I could see how distressed the dogs were,” Semirah said.  “They were barking and scratching, trying to get out of the car. The windows were completely shut.” The inside of the car would have been hot and stuffy, she said.

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Dogs in hot cars chart. Photo credit: heatkills.org

At first Semirah, who is a volunteer with Hong Kong Dog Rescue, called the SPCA but was told they were occupied with other cases. She phoned the local police station and they came quickly. Semirah said she was impressed how rapidly the police obtained the details of the car’s owner from the Transport Department.

Then the owner walked up. “He seemed unconcerned. Wanted to know what was going on.”

The police gave him a warning about cruelty to animals. It’s against the law. Before the man drove off with the two short-haired black Sai Kung pedigrees, Semirah gave him a piece of her mind. “I said, ‘Take the dogs with you or leave them at home!'”

Dogs shouldn’t be left in cars at all, Semirah said. There is no need for it in dog-friendly Sai Kung.

Every year many dogs die or suffer serious injury — damage to heart, liver and brain — because unthinking people leave them in hot cars. They don’t realise how quickly the heat can rise inside a closed car. 

Peta, the animal charity, said on a 78-degree Fahrenheit day the temperature in a parked car can reach 100 to 120 degrees in just minutes. On a 90-degree day it can go as high as 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes.

Dogs do not have the ability to cool their bodies as efficiently as humans by sweating. They cool down a lot slower and less effectively by panting. It can take as little as 10 minutes in a hot car to kill a dog.

Semirah’s film of distressed dogs locked in a car with closed windows

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