Keeping an animal in your car isn’t illegal, but allowing it to be in distress is. That’s the message from the Ontario SPCA, which says it’s an offense to not provide enough protection from the heat or the elements.

OSPCA Inspector Natalie Rizzuti says leaving a dog in an environment where it can’t get away from the heat, like a hot car, goes against the Ontario SPCA act. She says there are also criminal laws that prevent unnecessary pain and suffering which would apply to leaving a dog in a hot car.

Rizzuti says it’s harmful for dogs because they can’t sweat the same way as humans can.

Rizzuti says after that, the heat can cause permanent brain damage or even death. She says because dogs can only pant, they can’t physically cool themselves down in that type of environment.

If you see a dog in a car on a hot day, Rizzuti says to call 310-SPCA if you think the dog is in distress.

Rizzuti says if it’s an urgent matter, call the OPP.

Overall, Rizzuti it’s best to avoid leaving your dog unattended in the car because the situation can become deadly in a matter of minutes.