A dog left in a car tragically passed away in the heats of Nelson last week. Photo: File.

Dog car death ‘devastating’


A dog left in a hot car outside a Nelson property last week has died ‑ a death that the Nelson SPCA describes as “a devastating and horrible way to go”.

“Unless you’re actually taking the dog somewhere for the day, like the river or the beach, don’t take them,” SPCA manager Donna Walzl she says.

Donna says that on a hot day the temperature inside your car can reach 39 degrees Celsius within 10 minutes. A dog left in a parked car can be dead within minutes as they don’t have the ability to cool themselves down. Dogs need cool air flow because their primary method of cooling down is by panting, she says.

With the weather heating up, the SPCA is already getting an increasing number of calls every day, and Donna says “it’s only going to get busier”.

Wakefield resident and dog owner Cushla Moir was disturbed last week to see an “extremely hot and distressed” dog in a car in the Richmond Mall car park.

Cushla rang the SPCA, but as staff there were unable to respond quickly enough, they suggested she went to the Richmond Police Station. The vehicle had gone by the time they returned.

“Who knows how long it had been there before I got there?”

Tasman animal control officer and former SPCA animal welfare inspector Craig Crowley says, “don’t take your dogs to town full stop”.

“You’re leaving them in a hothouse irrespective of whether you leave the windows down or not.”

Craig’s comments were echoed by Richmond community constable Kyle Abbott and Richmond Mall manager Belinda de Clercq. Richmond Mall security keeps an eye out for dogs and will contact the SPCA is they have concerns, but Belinda says, “car parks are not the place for dogs”.

Town and Country Vets manager Annette McFadgen says she understands that there may be some situations where it’s unavoidable, but says that people should “ask your vet clinic if you can leave it there for an hour or so”.

Town and Country Vets have a cool area where their clients can leave their dogs and cats for a few hours “as long as we have room”.

While most vet clinics run this service for their clients, she suggests ringing first to see if they have availability on the day.

If people do have concerns about dogs left in cars, “people should ring the SPCA as the first port of call as they have the power to break into vehicles,” says Craig.

Donna says that the SPCA work closely with animal control and the police to identify the owner of the vehicle and rescue the dog if necessary.

SPCA Nelson is available Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm on 547 7171.

Animal Welfare after-hours emergency number phone 027 436 9243.

Injured, stray or abandoned animals may be brought to the SPCA at 379 Waimea Road, Nelson during opening hours.

Nelson City Council animal control phone 546 0200 or Tasman District Council animal control phone 543 8400 (available 24/7).