Wanganui SPCA staff rescued a dog which they said was having a fit and near death as a result of being trapped in a hot vehicle.
The case was one of several sparked by the recent hot weather. SPCA worker Toni Ericsson said they were horrified at the number of people leaving dogs locked in cars or chained on the back of utes while they shopped, lunched or socialised.
Ms Ericsson said there had been more than 10 callouts in the past five days, with staff from businesses and members of the public phoning, distressed that dogs had been left in hot cars.
"They're locked in cars with just a tiny slit of window left open and there are dogs left chained on the trays of utes with no shade and no water ... it's so cruel.
"One dog was so overheated it was 'fitting' and would have died fairly soon if we hadn't got there."
SPCA staff talked to the owner but were concerned the dog hadn't been taken to the vet yet, which could mean a prosecution.
Ms Ericsson said when responding to a call they waited as long as possible for the owner to arrive. In extreme cases, an SPCA inspector was legally entitled to break into a vehicle to free an animal.
"When the weather is so hot, you're not doing your dog any favours taking it out for a ride. Leave the dog at home, where there's shade and water," she said. Some people who left their dogs while they popped in for a quick drink or lunch just hadn't thought about their pet's welfare, she said.