With thousands of people expected to take to the roads this summer holiday, animal rescue charity National Animal Welfare Trust (NAWT) is reminding people of their responsibilities when it comes to dog travel following a survey of owners.

One of the biggest reminders is about leaving dogs in hot cars. At 22 degrees outside, a car interior can reach 47 degrees within an hour. An open window or parking in shade are not reliable ways to keeping your dog cool and comfortable.

Under the Animal Welfare Act owners have a duty of care towards their animals to protect them and prevent suffering which includes not exposing them to extremes of temperature. If a dog is left in a car on a warm day and suffers harm, owners could be at risk of prosecution.

The second reminder is around keeping dogs safe while travelling. NAWT found that 1 in 5 dogs would be unprotected in the event of a car accident because the animal is not restrained.

The Highway Code asks drivers to ensure a dog is kept secure with a crate, guard or harness so as not to cause a distraction to the driver and to protect them and their animal if there is an emergency stop. Since around 40% of respondents take one or more dogs in the car with them every day, that’s a high number of people at risk of flouting regulations.

Many car insurance policies require owners to follow Highway Code guidance on restraining their dogs but with only 7% of those surveyed stating they know what their insurance says, it would be worthwhile reading your insurance documentation before you travel.

Owners should also check how emergency breakdown cover affects travel with dogs too. While 88% of respondents have such cover, in the event of a breakdown many emergency recovery companies leave it up to the discretion of their employees to decide how your dog can travel in the event of a recovery. This means your dog may have to remain in your vehicle on the recovery truck or if being towed, or worse still, your dog could be refused outright.

Commenting on the findings NAWT CEO Clare Williams said: “Given summertime is a peak season for road travel, we wanted to warn people about the potential road blocks in their way with regard to their next trip.
“Most of us regard our pets as family members so be prepared for any unwelcome surprises by checking your legal responsibilities, your insurance and make sure your dog is secure while travelling.”

NAWT have prepared this infographic with information and advice.