BRACEBRIDGE, ON – It is getting to the time of year when people begin to discover dogs in locked cars.

There is a heightened awareness of the practice, which gets people calling police and considering taking other action such as breaking a vehicle’s window.

Sergeant Jason Folz of the OPP says there are some steps that need to be taken before damaging a person’s property.

“We’re quite happy to have people call in on our non-emergency number, (888) 310-1122 and we’ll be able to dispatch an officer and at that time we can engage with our partners, the SPCA and make a decision on whether that window needs to be broken,” said Folz.

He said the other thing to consider before breaking a window, is have you done everything to locate the owner of the pet if they are parked in a store parking lot?

“Have you gone into a store and (gotten a manager to use the PA system),” he asked rhetorically.

Folz says it has been quiet in terms of emergency pet calls as it has been a cool spring so far, but he expects that to change as the warmer weather arrives.

“Hopefully people don’t leave their animals in the cars and shop at places that pet friendly and allow the animals into the stores,” he said. “We don’t need to see these animals in distress and we don’t need to see them in the car.”

Folz says the reason the OPP encourages people to call is when a person takes it upon themselves to break a window, there could then be a complaint from the car owner.

“Invariably we will become involved anyway,” admitted Folz. “If somebody takes it upon themselves to break a window to save a pet the person coming out that is irate and has only been there a very few minutes is now going to call us anyway. We’ll be involved at some point or another.”

Charges can be laid for leaving a dog in a hot car to the point it is in distress, but charges may also be laid for destruction of property to save a dog.

It can take as little as 10 minutes for dogs to suffer brain damage on a hot day while in a car. But without knowing how long an animal has been in the car getting help from the police or the SPCA is the more prudent route. The province-wide SPCA cruelty to animals reporting line is 310-7722.