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Can you legally smash a car window if a dog is inside on a hot day?

PUBLISHED: 12:59 19 June 2017 | UPDATED: 18:36 19 June 2017

Sheep dogs  wait in owner's car. Photo: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Sheep dogs wait in owner's car. Photo: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

This week is set to be the hottest of the year so far, with temperatures soaring to 31C.

While this is cause to celebrate, it’s also cause for concern as the heat can prove fatal to dogs left in cars.

Over the weekend Norfolk Police received several reports of dogs in cars. On Twitter they advised the public to “consider the welfare” of animals and themselves.

They also shared a message from the RSPCA to remind pet owners of the dangers. The post said: “Never leave your dog alone in a car. If it’s 22C outside, inside a car it can get to 47C within 60 minutes.

MORE: Hottest day of year so far recorded for East Anglia - but forecasters warn temperatures will continue to rise

“In hot stuffy vehicles dogs cannot cool themselves down, even with the windows open.

“Heatstroke can be fatal to dogs”

So what can you do if you spot a dog suffering?

• Start by assessing the animal’s condition. Are they displaying any signs of heatstroke such as heavy panting, excessive drooling or vomiting? If they are showing symptoms call 999 immediately.

MORE: Police called to Dereham car park amid concerns for a dog left in a motorhome on hottest day of the year

• If the police are too far away you may consider taking action to free the dog. In this instance you must make sure the police are aware of your intentions and understand that you may have to defend your actions in court. Because of this you should obtain images or record footage of the dog in distress and collect the names and phone numbers of any witnesses in the area.

What does the law say?

The Criminal Damage Act of 1971 states that a person has a lawful excuse to commit damage if “at the time of the act or acts alleged to constitute the offence he believed that the person or persons whom he believed to be entitled to consent to the destruction of or damage to the property in question had so consented, or would have so consented to it if he or they had known of the destruction or damage and its circumstances.”

• For more information contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.


  • Why would anyone even think it is acceptable to leave their dog in a car on a hot day? A facebook friend spotted a dog in distress in a hot car on Saturday and phoned the police who came very quickly and smashed the window to free the poor dog. The owners are being prosecuted for animal cruelty.

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    Monday, June 19, 2017

  • Cr*p. If like Yarco boy, I saw an animal in distress in a baking hot car I would firstly smash the window and stuff the law. Then call the police, then stay there until the person(s) were found or returned, so I could see the look on their face(s).

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    Monday, June 19, 2017

  • What a load of tosh.. If i saw an animal suffering in a car, yes, i would call the police, if they failed to turn up, i would break the smallest window and release the poor animals..Then the owner should be charged with negligence and cruelty to animals,But more than likely, the police would want to charge me with criminal damage,,!! Id defend it all the way to the court of human rights, at great expense to the state.Only to be found not guilty.

    Report this comment

    yarco boy

    Monday, June 19, 2017

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