The SPCA is advising Northlanders to keep their pets at home rather than leave them baking in cars as temperatures are set to soar further in summer.
The animal rights organisation cannot pinpoint how many pets are rescued from vehicles in Northland, because such complaints are logged as "ill treatment" in its system. But it says animals left in cars with windows up is a constant issue in the region, especially during summer.
"Up North in particular, we are seeing people leave their dogs in cars while they go for a day on the boat. The animals in cars are normally dogs, sometimes puppies, the occasional guinea pig. A cat was removed from a car last year," SPCA chief executive Andrea Midgen said.
SPCA inspectors and police have powers to break into cars and rescue animals either suffering from heat exhaustion or those that are likely to. The SPCA is the only charity in New Zealand with statutory powers, including the ability to issue infringement notices and prosecutions under the Animal Welfare Act 1999.
"Dog owners should also be aware that with the introduction of MPI's new animal welfare regulations on October 1, they can now be fined $300 for leaving their dog in a hot car," Midgen said.
In the summer months, Midgen said, the SPCA sees an increase in complaints relating to animals without shade, lacking fresh water, and dogs left in hot cars.
All of those welfare calls could be avoided by owners putting provisions in place and planning ahead for their furry family members, she said.
Dogs left in cars, she said, was a common welfare issue over summer and she hoped owners were mindful of the new regulation and the risk to their animals.
The interior of a car can heat up very quickly on a sunny day. Leaving the windows slightly open has very little effect. This situation can be extremely dangerous - even fatal - for dogs and is entirely preventable.
A cat or a dog can die from heat stress within 10 to 15 minutes.
"If the purpose of your trip is not for your dog, leave them at home. If you must take your dog with you in the car, bring fresh water and a water dish for them and always take your dog with you when you leave your car."
Midgen has urged anyone that saw a dog suffering in a hot car to immediately find the owner or call the SPCA or police.
She said they must not smash the car window as this could put them and the dog at risk.