Norfolk man fined after leaving dogs in truck in Cromer on hottest UK day ever

Credit: RSPCA

The dogs were left in the back of the truck in Cromer on the hottest day of the year by Stephen Owen.
The owner was fined, but allowed to keep the dogs. Credit: RSPCA

A man who left his two dogs in a truck on the hottest day ever recorded in the UK has been fined, said the RSPCA.

Stephen Owen, 66, left his two Labradors, Kimba and Kenza, in the back of his truck in Cromer, Norfolk, for 10 minutes on 19 July.

UK temperatures hit a record 40.3°C and the two black dogs had to be rescued from the parked vehicle by members of the public.

The dogs were panting heavily and unsteady on their feet after the rescue, as the back of the truck had no air conditioning.

They were cooled down with fans and wet towels after being taken into a nearby shop.

CCTV footage showed Owen, of High Street, Blakeney, return to the vehicle 14 minutes after leaving the dogs, by which time the animals had been freed.

Following an RSPCA prosecution, the charity said Owen pleaded guilty to one offence contrary to the Animal Welfare Act 2006 when he appeared before Norwich Magistrates' Court on 21 December.

RSPCA inspector Dean Astillberry explained to the court that the rear of Owen's truck was entirely separated from the cab area, receiving no air conditioning.

The back of the truck was made of a fibre glass type material. Credit: RSPCA

Although Owen said he had left windows open and a supply of water in the car on the day of the incident, a vet reviewed videos of the dogs and said: “In my opinion, leaving the dogs in a hot car would have caused them to suffer.

"Within a short period of time the temperature in a hot car can increase quickly and cause severe suffering or possible death cause severe suffering or possible death.

“Dogs cannot sweat, only pant. Over a certain temperature, the brain loses the ability to regulate it, and in many cases it ends up in a heat stroke that will lead to multiple organ failure and death.

"Any reasonable owner should know leaving dogs in a car on the hottest day could have led to their deaths.”

The RSPCA said Owen was fined £797 and ordered to pay costs of £400, with no disqualification order on keeping animals was imposed. 

In mitigation, the court heard how Owen had cared for animals for all of his life and that the incident had been a serious, one-off error that would never be repeated.

Speaking after the sentencing, RSPCA inspector Astillberry said: “This case could have had a very different and tragic outcome and we’d like to thank the members of the public who recognised the clear distress these dogs were in, and intervened.

“We hope it will serve as a reminder to people about the dangers of leaving any animal in a hot vehicle for any period of time, especially when temperatures were as extreme as they were back in July.

"A short trip to the shops can be fatal and our message is clear - not long is too long.”

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