The Kennel Club looks at some of the ways Championship shows
avoid dogs being left in cars.
So far this year, the British summer weather has been as
alarmingly unpredictable as ever - offering chilling cold and
searing heat, with no real pattern emerging. With this
unpredictability comes a responsibility - making sure dogs are not
left unattended in a car.
Every year the Kennel Club hears reports of dogs being cooked
alive after being left in a car in hot weather. In common
with many animals, dogs are extremely sensitive to heat, and even
on a mildly warm day they can quickly overheat - even with the car
windows open and water available - as temperatures can quickly heat
up to around 50 degrees Celsius.
The Kennel Club has been looking at the ways that some dog show
societies try to deal with this issue when organising and running a
dog show - often the largest gathering of dogs and humans in any
one place at one time - and with exhibitors travelling across the
country to compete, it is crucial that they too remember the
potentially fatal consequences of leaving their dogs in the car
Some shows, including City of Birmingham and Leeds, have opted
to allow spectator dogs into the showground. This works well
as it provides both exhibitors and members of the public with the
opportunity to keep their dogs with them, helping to keep them safe
and comfortable. Liz Stannard, Secretary of Leeds, said:
"Allowing spectator dogs into the show works tremendously well for
us. It is useful for exhibitors who may have had to bring
along a dog that isn't being shown, and is the same cost as
entering a dog as Not For Competition anyway, so it seems to keep
everyone happy. Members of the public simply fill out a form,
pay a £10 fee and then wear a 'spectator dog' lanyard throughout
the day. It offers the public the opportunity to bring along
their dogs to compare them with the dogs being shown and to see if
showing is something that they might want to get involved in, so
allowing spectator dogs into the show can help keep the dogs safe
as well as promoting dog showing to a wider audience, which is
handy. It also makes good economic sense."
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: "Letting spectator
dogs into a show means that owners can keep their four-legged
friends with them, which is usually the preferred approach from the
dogs' point of view! On top of that, charging a fee means
that the show, or a dog related charity, may make some extra money,
so it is generally a win-win - the show benefits and so do the
dogs, exhibitors and members of the public."
Another way to minimise the number of dogs being left in cars at
dog shows is to make use of an 'unentered dogs tent', something
which has been employed by many of the large shows for many
years. The tent acts like a canine crèche, a place where dogs
can relax and stay cool, whilst being taken care of by experienced
A hospitality suite for dogs is the perfect way to help avoid
tragedies from occurring, says Angela Mitchell, Secretary of
Birmingham Dog Show Society which runs Birmingham National
show. Angela said: "Having an unentered dogs tent works
really, really well for us at the show. It means that those
who are showing can leave a dog there safely, knowing it will be
looked after. We are very flexible with how we work it -
owners can just turn up with their dogs, there is no pre-booking
system, and they can return to see their dogs or exercise them
whenever they want."
One of the first championship shows to incorporate the unentered
dogs tent was Southern Counties, over thirty years ago, and the
initiative is still going strong today, with a little help from the
Rottweiler Welfare Association who man the tents and take care of
the dogs at a number of championship shows across the
country. The Rottweiler Welfare Association also manage the
unentered dogs tent at a number of other championship shows,
including one of the ultimate summer shows, Windsor.
Of course, when hosting an unentered dogs tent, it must be
considered whether or not the conditions will be suitable for the
dogs. Caroline Kisko says: "Different shows will choose to do
things differently depending on what is best for the dogs within
the environment of the show. It needs to be considered
whether or not an unentered dogs tent, should that be the chosen
practice, offers good facilities and would be preferable over
leaving dogs in a well-ventilated, cool van, for example.
"These areas should aim to be relatively quiet and calming, with
plenty of water and space for the dogs, including cages or
benching, depending on what works for individual dogs.
Measures must be put into place too of course to ensure that the
area is well ventilated and kept cool."
So what happens if a dog is found in distress in a car?
Shows such as Windsor, that offer facilities like the unentered
dogs tent, have a strict policy on dogs in cars. Windsor Secretary,
Irene Terry, said: "We patrol the car park every hour to check no
dogs have been left unattended in cars and are in distress. The
process following the discovery of a dog stuck in a car is very
regimented, starting a call out over the PA system, which would
include the car make and registration number, followed by another
if the first was unsuccessful. We would, if possible, use the
number on the car parking pass to identify the exhibitor.
Judging will then be stopped if necessary until the owner has been
located. We do occasionally get a bit of stick for this but
the welfare of the dogs has to be the priority. The show vet
will check for signs of distress on the dog and if necessary the
car will be forcibly opened to free the dog."
Tips for those running a dog show
• Host a 'canine crèche' in the form of an
unentered dogs tent
• Consider allowing spectator dogs into the show
to help prevent members of the public leaving their dogs in the car
when they visit
• Source volunteers to patrol the car parks
regularly throughout the show to check for dogs left in cars that
may be distressed
• Put up posters and give out leaflets on the
dangers of leaving dogs in cars
• Direct people to the Kennel Club's Don't Cook
Your Dog video. This can be found by searching 'Don't Cook
Your Dog' on Youtube.
Thanks to the hard work of those running championship shows, and
the responsible exhibitors who enter, incidents of dogs being left
in cars at shows are relatively few and far between.
Unfortunately the UK is never guaranteed a hot and sunny summer,
but putting provisions in place to avoid having to leave dogs in
cars in any weather is the most sensible move to help safeguard