Worrying number of pets continuing to be locked in vehicles

The AA and NZ Companion Animal Council are warning pet owners to not leave their four-legged friends in vehicles during the hot summer ahead as figures show no respite in the number of AA callouts for trapped pets.

AA Roadservice has attended more than 4000 callouts nationwide for animals locked in vehicles since 2012, at an average of 52 callouts a month or 637 callouts a year. By October 31 this year, Roadservice Officers had already attended more than 530 callouts for locked animals.

AA National Roadservice Manager John Healy says pet owners should never leave their pet locked in a vehicle.

“ The temperature inside a vehicle with no or little ventilation rises rapidly, particularly in summer and it doesn’t take long before a pet gets agitated and suffers the effects of heat exhaustion which can have potentially fatal consequences.”

The NZ Companion Animal Council is backing the AA’s warning, and is hoping new regulations which give animal welfare inspectors the power to fine people for leaving a dog in a hot vehicle will increase awareness of the associated risks.

As of October 1, if a dog left in a vehicle becomes heat stressed; the dog owner, vehicle owner and person left in charge of the dog can each be fined $300 under the Animal Welfare (Care and Procedure) Regulations 2018. If the complaint warranted further enforcement action, people could also face prosecution.

New Zealand Companion Animal Council (NZCAC) Acting Operations Manager Bianka Atlas says they have a simple message for dog owners.

“If the purpose of your trip is not to take your dog somewhere, please leave your dog at home.”

On a 30°C day, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach 39°C in less than 5 minutes; in 30 minutes, it will be 49°C. This occurs even if the vehicle is parked in the shade with the windows down.

“Unlike humans, dogs can’t sweat to regulate their body temperature and rely on panting to cool down. Heat overpowers this function, placing them at risk of irreversible organ damage and death,” Atlas says.

Signs that indicate a dog is heat stressed include: shade seeking behaviour, excessive panting, excessive drooling, and hyperventilation.

Anyone who sees a dog suffering in a hot car is urged to call the Police, SPCA or AA immediately.

The AA immediately prioritises any calls involving children or pets locked inside a vehicle. Two Roadservice Officers arrive at the scene regardless of whether the person is an AA Member or not. If the situation is deemed to be serious, the AA also notifies the Fire Service in case there is a delay in arrival.

To call the AA for emergency lockout assistance, dial 0800 500 222 or *222 from mobile phones.

For more information contact:
John Healy
AA Roadservice National Manager
New Zealand Automobile Association
T. +64 9 966 9315
M. +64 21 723 519

Bianka Atlas
Acting Operations Manager
New Zealand Companion Animal Council
M. +64 21 555 285

The New Zealand Automobile Association is an incorporated society with more than 1.6 million Members. It represents the interests of road users who collectively pay more than $2 billion in taxes each year through fuels excise, road user charges and GST.

The NZCAC is a national not-for-profit organisation, which lobbies and advocates on behalf of companion animals. The NZCAC works to create a nation that values, respects and responsibly cares for companion animals and is funded via profits raised from the New Zealand Companion Animal Register (NZCAR). For more information, please visit us on Facebook or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.