Uptick in calls for pets in hot vehicles; leave them at home, officials say

First responders in the Okanagan are dealing with a high volume of calls involving dogs being left in hot vehicles.

According to crews, these calls are using up time and resources that first responders cannot afford to waste.

“We responded to 13 calls since June. And (Tuesday) alone, we responded to three calls,” said Paul Johnson of the Kelowna Fire Department.

With the uptick in calls received by both the fire department and the Kelowna RCMP, officials are urging people to think twice before bringing their pets out on a hot day.

“During the hot periods, well, at any time, your dog is much happier at home,” said Const. Mike Della-Paolera.

“I know we love to have our animals around us. But your dog, cat, or whatever animal it is, it would rather be at home where there’s food, water, and shelter from the heat or cold. Just leave your dog at home.”

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Leaving pets in hot vehicles is not only a danger to their health but it’s also prohibited by a bylaw that allows dog control from the Regional District of Central Okanagan to issue fines of up to $150.

“There are fines under the animal control act. Usually, the SPCA will take up that investigation,”  Della-Paolera said. “We can issue fines, but we generally leave the investigational part up to those authorities.”

Having dealt with a number of similar calls in the past, Della-Paolera called the issue “traumatic,” especially when cases end in a life lost.

“I’d taken the dog out of the vehicle, and I was holding it in my arms as I was transporting it to my vehicle, which was air-conditioned, where I was going to transport the dog to the veterinary. Unfortunately, the dog didn’t make it,” Della-Paolera said.

“I’m a dog lover. That was a pretty traumatic moment in my career.”

First responders say that while calls about pets in hot vehicles are important, the issue itself is preventable.

“There are only so many hours within a day, and for us to be dealing with a dog locked in a vehicle… there’s other things we should be doing,” Johnson said.

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