THE RSPCA has come out swinging after what it described as an "absolutely appalling" decision to not punish a Maryborough man who left his dog locked in a hot car while he attended a physiotherapy appointment.
Selwyn Earnest Shirley, 71, was found not guilty of breaching his duty of care for a dog because police were unable to prove the temperature inside his vehicle when they rescued his "distressed" kelpie last October.
"This goes against everything we promote about leaving animals in cars," RSPCA Queensland spokesman Michael Beatty said.
"I've never seen a decision like it; it could have serious ramifications."
The Maryborough Magistrates Court heard a member of the public informed police at 11.30am last October 25 that a dog was locked in a car parked in the Richard Ramsay Place carpark on Lennox St.
The dog had been in the car, parked in full sunlight, for at least 45 minutes before police were able to assess the situation, Senior Constable Megan Ould told the court.
"I could see the dog was in distress; it was panting and its tongue was hanging right out... it was very still," she said.
She said the driver and passenger side front windows were down about 8cm - just enough for her to reach her arm into the car to unlock the door.
"As I opened the door... I felt the heat coming out of the car. It had been in the sun sometime."
Snr Const Ould took the dog to the police station where the animal was given water. The Bureau of Meteorology website showed the temperature to be 26 degrees.
Shirley, who represented himself in court, put to Snr Const Ould there was a 15-20 knot breeze blowing and the car windows were wound down more than 8cm.
Snr Const Ould rejected both claims, saying even if there was a breeze the car was parked in a sheltered area and she had measured the width of her arm herself.
Magistrate John Smith found Shirley not guilty because police could not prove the temperature inside the car and he had left the front windows open.