We are experiencing above normal temperatures already this summer, not just here but across the province.
The scorching heat can be deadly for us and no less so for domestic animals that are placed in situations by owners where they can’t escape extreme temperatures.
Such was the case in 2014 in Langley where six dogs died from heat stroke after being left locked under a canopy in the box of a pick-up truck for 40 minutes. It was 20 degrees outside, nowhere near the temperatures we’ve been getting, and the truck was parked in the shade with water bowls available inside but even that wasn’t enough.
The B.C. SPCA says that a dog can be overwhelmed by heat in as little as ten minutes.
They received 850 calls regarding animals left in hot cars in 2013 and in 2014 they received well over 1,000 calls.
The horrible incident last year prompted action by one of my colleagues, B.C. NDP MLA for Coquitlam-Maillardville Selina Robinson, to introduce a private member’s bill in March called the Distressed Animal Act.
With only 26 special provincial constables working across the province, the B.C. SPCA liaises with RCMP and municipal bylaw officers to respond to urgent calls of dogs and other animals in heat distress.
The Distressed Animal Act would have permitted bylaw enforcement officers in cities, towns and villages across the province to seize animals in distress where there is inadequate ventilation in a vehicle — powers to enter locked vehicles to rescue a dog for instance, that they don’t have right now.
It also would amend the Motor Vehicle Act, noting that a person commits an offence if they are transporting an animal without providing for adequate ventilation.
The Distressed Animal Act would permit first responders to take immediate action and ensure more awareness and compliance so that animals need not die such a horrible death while the driver runs a few errands or only intends to leave the animal for a few minutes.
The government did not allow this private member’s bill to get beyond the first reading introduction, but after a summer of temperatures like we are experiencing perhaps they will see the usefulness of what we are proposing.
Doug Donaldson is the MLA for Stikine