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WATCH: "My carelessness killed my three dogs"

dog in car

3:42pm 19th June 2017
(Updated 4:17pm 19th June 2017)

A warning goes out to dog-owners in Surrey and Hampshire - not to leave their pets in hot cars.

The RSPCA has released a hard-hitting video in a bid to reach pet owners during the heat. 

The charity is reminding people across the country of the dangers of leaving pets in cars on warm days.

The UK’s largest and oldest animal welfare charity is launching its annual Dogs Die in Hot Cars campaign.

It shows a heartbreaking video of a man who was prosecuted by the charity for leaving his three dogs in his car while he went to the gym.

All three dogs died.

In the video, Jonathan Theobald talks about the devastating impact the split second decision to leave the trio in the car has had on his life and that of his family’s since that fateful day almost a year ago: “I got it badly wrong, I misjudged the weather very badly.”

'The house feels empty'

It was a warm day on 16 June 2016, but it was overcast and wasn’t particularly hot.

Mr Theobald, 66, drove to his local gym in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, and went inside for his work-out.

He left his three Staffordshire bull terrier crosses Daisy, Rascal and Mitch in the car for more than four hours.

When he returned to his Volkswagen estate, two of his dogs were already dead of heat exposure and he spent 30 minutes desperately trying to revive Daisy before she finally succumbed to the heat.

WATCH: Jonathan's heart-breaking story

Other gym users contacted the police and a vet and officers later found a devastated Mr Theobald at his home address with the dogs still inside the car and called in the RSPCA to investigate.

In September last year, Mr Theobald was sentenced to an 18-week prison sentence suspended for two years.

He was also disqualified from keeping animals for 10 years and ordered to pay £1,900 in fines and costs.

He’d previously pleaded guilty to one offence of causing unnecessary suffering to Daisy, Rascal and Mitch by confining the animals in an environment which was detrimental to their well-being and led to their death.

dog

In 2016, the RSPCA’s emergency hotline received 7,187 calls about animals in hot environments - the majority of which were regarding dogs.

While down from the previous year (8,779), the number is still worryingly high considering the charity’s key advice is for people to call 999.

RSPCA inspector Justin Stubbs, who investigated Daisy, Rascal and Mitch’s deaths, said: “It’s staggering to think that more than 7,000 people called us last year due to concerns about animals in the heat and most of these will have been dogs left in cars.

“Our message has been loud and clear for years: don’t leave dogs alone in parked cars on warm days. And while it’s reassuring that this message seems to be getting through to some people, ultimately we’d like this number to drop to zero."

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