Dogs Die in Hot Cars

Pledge never to leave your dog unattended in a vehicle

In 2016/17, RSPCA Tasmania received over 2,200 calls to our 1300 139 947 Animal Cruelty hotline – 87 of those were distress calls about animals (usually dogs) being left in cars in the heat.

The Issue

    • Vehicles in the sun get hot at any time of the year.
    • A vehicle can get hot even with the windows down in a cool, shaded position – the clouds and sun can move quickly.
    • Leaving car windows down on an unattended vehicle is illegal and will not prevent a car from reaching extreme temperatures.
    • Vehicles are made of metal and glass – both heat up quickly and retain heat. Generally speaking, vehicles with larger glass surface areas (e.g. hatchbacks) heat up faster and to higher temperatures than similar-sized sedans.
    • Tray-back utilities can get extremely hot. Dogs travelling on the back of utes must be secured and have access to shade and water – preferably under a canopy.
    • Due to health regulations, dogs cannot enter shopping centres, unless in special circumstances and with prior agreement from management. (In an emergency, however, the cool air of a shopping centre may help save the life of an animal in distress.)
    • Dogs tied up unattended outside a vehicle or building may present a risk to the public and may be at risk themselves (from cruelty, theft and weather conditions). You may also be in breach of local council laws.

Animal Welfare Alternatives

Do not risk your dog’s life in a hot vehicle. Leave your dog (and other animals) at home with shade, shelter and access to fresh water.

If, as a last resort (or in an emergency) you need to have your dog with you, the RSPCA advises:

    • DON’T leave your dog inside an unattended vehicle, even with the windows down (locked or otherwise). Leaving your vehicles windows down on an unattended vehicle is illegal and will not prevent a vehicle from reaching extreme temperatures.
    • DON’T leave your dog on the back of a parked utility, especially in the sun.
    • DO leave your dog secured in a safe area in the shade outside the vehicle with access to water, and ideally under the supervision of a responsible person, if you have to leave the animal for a short time.
    • DO ensure sufficient ventilation while the vehicle is moving (air conditioning, windows down safely) and that your dog, or its cage, is adequately restrained.
    • DO ensure your dog has regular access to cool, clean drinking water.

Leaving an animal without appropriate hydration and shelter is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act and you may be prosecuted.


In Tasmania there is no specific offence in the Animal Welfare Act (in which our Inspectors operate) for leaving a dog in a vehicle, or on the back of a ute.

It is however illegal to leave car windows down in an unattended vehicle.

Whilst there is no legislation surrounding pets being left in hot cars, depending on the outcome, these situations can be offences under Section (7) Management of animals, Section (8) Cruelty to animals, or even Section (9) Aggravated cruelty.

The maximum penalty for serious animal cruelty is a 5 year term of imprisonment, or a fine not exceeding $31,800, or both.

How YOU Can Help

Most people that leave their pets unattended in a vehicle or on a ute are unaware of the dangers for their pet. The last thing a pet owner would want is to find out that their quick visit to the shops has cost them their pet’s life.

If you come across an animal in distress locked in an unattended vehicle, we believe the best course of immediate action is to contact the Tasmania Police radio room on 131444. We would also recommend trying to locate the owner.

You can help RSPCA Tasmania by spreading the word to family and friends of the dangers of leaving pets unattended in cars.

For more information and to take the pledge to never leave your best friend behind visit :