HUNDREDS of dogs are being left in cars to die in sweltering heat, according to RSPCA Queensland.
The animal welfare group had more than 138 cases of abandoned animals left in cars reported in December, with 29 of those cases on the Sunshine Coast. Two dogs were found dead from heat stress across the state.
Nicklin Way vet Jana Diehm said the conditions in a hot car could kill a dog within 10 minutes - and in extreme cases within five minutes.
"It does not take long when all the windows are up and the car becomes a sauna," Dr Diehm said.
"They really don't stand a chance and by the time their owners get them to us, there is not much we can do."
The number of animals dumped at shelters doubled from 269 in November to 438 in December, and there was an increase, to 52 cases, of animals being left without sufficient food and water.
RSPCA Queensland chief inspector Daniel Young said the reports painted a disturbing picture of the state of animal welfare.
"There is no doubt that these figures are a major cause for concern," Mr Young said.
"A large number of animals actually were abandoned and scores more left with insufficient food and water."
Four Paws Animal Rescue Shelter president Julie Penlington said December was the worst month for Coast shelters in the past 10 years.
"People have been ringing on a daily basis trying to surrender their dogs because they don't want them anymore," Ms Penlington said.
"It was the worst Christmas I have ever known."
The RSPCA Queensland urgently needs volunteers to help manage the increased strain on its shelters.
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