Deadly decision: Blacktown ranks second in RSPCA study of dogs left in cars

Blacktown has ranked second in an RSPCA report into the number of dogs left in cars over the last five years.

The Blacktown local government area had 20 cases between 2008 and 2013, compared to 21 in Sydney.

They were followed by the local government areas of Lake Macquarie with 18 cases, Warringah 16, Coffs Harbour 16, Bankstown 15, Hornsby and Newcastle 13 each, Parramatta and Penrith 12 each.

Despite annual warnings from the RSPCA on the dangers of leaving animals in hot cars, the data shows owners are continuing to put dogs in danger.

It received 466 complaints about animals locked in vehicles between 2008 and 2013 of which 94 per cent (436) were in relation to dogs.

RSPCA NSW chief inspector David O’Shannessy said it only took six minutes for a dog to begin experiencing heat stress, and their condition could deteriorate quickly.

‘‘ The City of Sydney local government area was ground zero for the most number of complaints of animals locked in cars between 2008 and 2013,’’ he said.

‘‘Beachside areas such as Warringah, Manly, Coffs Harbour, Newcastle, Wollongong and Waverley collectively reported 56 cases between them.

‘‘In some instances, dogs were left in cars at the beach, while their owners went for a swim in hot weather.

‘‘Areas with large shopping centres also attracted higher levels of complaints with pet owners sometimes deeming it acceptable to leave their animals locked in cars in shopping centre car parks while they did their shopping.’’

On Blacktown, Mr O’Shannessy reminded tradespeople and ute owners about the dangers of leaving dogs out in the sun on the back of open vehicles.

“Cars left stationary in the sun become ovens,’’ he said.

‘‘Ute trays also become extremely hot, so even those working on building sites with their dogs on the back need to pay particular attention to their animals.’’

As temperatures continue to soar, RSPCA NSW is calling on the public to take a pledge to never leave their animals unattended or locked in a vehicle.

 Those who take the pledge will receive a free bumper sticker and key ring that shows their support.

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Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

* If an animal suffers as a result of being left in a car, the maximum penalty is $5,500 and can carry a six-month prison sentence.

* If an animal dies as a result of being left in a car, the maximum penalty is $22,000 and can carry a two-year prison sentence.

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