Despite warnings, some pet owners still forget that leaving a dog in a hot car -- even for a few minutes -- could be deadly.
That's why a mall in Canada is launching a pet patrol program to keep customers from leaving their animals in locked vehicles while they shop. Mic Mac Mall in Nova Scotia recently unveiled the service following an incident at the shopping center in which police were called to break a car window to save an overheated dog.
Under the program, mall security scan the parking lots surrounding the shopping center and keep an eye out for signs -- such as a cracked window -- that a pet may be locked in a vehicle, CBC News reports. If an animal is spotted, security will first attempt to contact the car owner.
"The first step they’ll take is to try and assess the condition of the animal in the vehicle," Staff Sgt. Lindsay Hernden of Halifax Regional Police told CTV News.
In dire situations, mall pet patrols will contact police.
Mic Mac is not the first mall to debut the service. Vaughan Mills in Ontario also employs security guards to be on the lookout for pets in cars on particularly hot days. The mall pet patrols expanded last year following a successful pilot program in the summer of 2012.
According to the Humane Society, on a day with a temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature inside a vehicle could rise to 102 degrees in merely 10 minutes. Five minutes more and an animal can suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals notes.