Protection & Investigations Series Part 1: Hot Cars

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The Protection and Investigations Department responds to 1200-1500 concerns annually, dealing mainly with: Abuse, neglect, cruelty and abandonment.

To help the public have a better understanding of what cruelty and neglect is in Alberta and what exactly our Peace Officers are able to do under the law, we will be looking at the issues listed above this month. 

Peace Officers from the Calgary Humane Society’s Protection and Investigations Department are appointed and mandated to enforce the Animal Protection Act of Alberta. While most reported issues are easily rectified through education and compliance, our Officers do have the authority to access non-dwelling property to investigate without a warrant and may – with a search warrant – access a dwelling house.

Calgary Humane Peace Officers jurisdiction is the city of Calgary, while the Alberta SPCA handles issues outside city limits.

Issues like barking dogs, aggressive dogs, dogs at large and dog and cat licensing are handled by the city of Calgary Animal Services because their officers enforce the city’s Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw.

Animals found to be in distress may be seized when an owner is not present or where an owner is not reasonably likely to rectify the distress. In severe and/or prolonged cases of neglect or abuse, charges may be laid under the Animal Protection Act (APA) or Canadian Criminal Code (CCC). The Act, however, does not apply to ‘generally accepted practices’ seen at rodeos, circuses and farms.

Potential consequences upon conviction include fines up to $20,000 (APA), prohibitions from owning animals up to lifetime (APA and CCC) and incarceration up to five years (CCC).

Distress, according to the law means:

  1. Deprived of adequate shelter, ventilation, space, food, water, veterinary care or reasonable protection from injurious heat or cold
  2. Injured, sick, in pain or suffering
  3. Abused or subjected to undue hardship, privation or neglect.

First Up: Animals in Hot Cars.

A hot car is very dangerous to your pet. While cracked windows and water may mitigate the risk, it does not eliminate the health risk to your pet. The inside of a vehicle can rise very quickly in a very short period. Because your pet cannot sweat effectively, it cannot cope with the heat like a human.

Calgary Humane Society Peace Officers begin responding to these concerns at 15C in an educational capacity, but in the 20C – 30C, animals will be removed from vehicles with no more force as necessary, which still may mean a broken window, a seized pet and potentially a charge.

Below are some alternatives to leaving your pet in a hot car:

  • Use a drive-thru: many restaurants, pharmacies and banks have a drive-through option and can be handy for a quick errand.
  • Shop at a pet-friendly stores: most pet stores are dog friendly, but there are an increasing number of stores that are Fido-friendly.
  • Find a park (and a friend): bring a friend or family member along, so they can hang outside with Fido while you run your errands
  • Leave Fido at home: it’s cool, it’s safe and Fido probably won’t complain about enjoying a quick power nap while you run your errands.


Reporting dogs in hot cars:

If you witness a dog in a hot car (15 degree or above), you can report it to the Calgary Humane Society’s Protection and Investigations Department by calling (403) 205-4455. Our dispatchers will create a file to be investigated by a Peace Officer. Abuse in progress after hours may be reported to the Calgary Police Service at (403) 266-1234.

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