'There will be animals in Ontario that will die': Concerns over pets in hot cars after change to legislation
WINDSOR, ONT. -- With the return of summer-like weather has come one bad habit pet owners don’t want to be found guilty of - leaving animals inside a hot vehicle.
Animal advocates are worried that isn't the only place pets are being left. Changes to animal welfare enforcement came into effect at the beginning of the year and these changes are frustrating animal advocates.
It’s that time of year when Pet Patrol founder Rose Owens gets scared for pets in hot cars.
Owens says this year not only are people leaving animals in the heat, people are leaving them all together.
“Dogs are being left tied up to things, dropped off in some people’s backyards and people are saying I don’t even know this dog,” says Owens.
Executive director of the Windsor Essex County Humane Society says that's not the case.
Coulter says many of the pets that people think are being abandoned are later being claimed by their owners.
“What we and many other shelters in North America are seeing is the opposite that this is actually a really good time to re-home an animal, that people are looking to take in animals,” says Coulter.
Since the beginning of the year began, the humane society and other Ontario shelters, are legally unable to interfere when they find animals in hot vehicles.
“Right now the only people that can legally remove an animal from a hot vehicle are a police officer or a provincial inspector.”
In March of 2019, the Ontario SPCA withdrew animal protection services in Ontario and ended its government contract.
Coulter says the provincial government has the ability to appoint by-law officers to respond to animal welfare issues like hot vehicles, but says regulations haven’t been passed.
“We are very concerned that if these regulations don’t pass, that there will be animals in Ontario that die in a hot vehicle because there’s not an agency in Ontario that‘s able to respond quickly enough,” says Coulter.
Owens tells CTV News in the years since she founded Pet Patrol, she’s seen almost 900 dogs stuck inside hot vehicles.
She says these calls are heartbreaking.
“Am I going to let somebody stand in my way? No.”
Owens has lost patience with regulators, becoming a vigilante of sorts for animals, saying she will take matters into her own hands if she finds an animal in distress.
“If it’s life or death I will,” says Owens. “We do need somebody to get charged so it gets through to everybody saying, hey, I better stop doing this or I’m going to get a ticket or I’m going to get time in jail.”
Some people have lost their jobs and money is tight due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Coulter says the humane society expects to start seeing an increase of pet abandonment soon, if people don't get back to work.
Windsor-Tecumseh MPP Percy Hatfield raised the matter of animal welfare last Wednesday at Queen’s Park. He was unable to speak with CTV News about the matter on Wednesday.