West Shore RCMP say there's a downside to recent summer-like temperatures in the region – an increase in reports of dogs locked in hot cars.

Mounties say they responded to three separate calls of dogs in distress in hot vehicles within just a couple of hours on Saturday.

They said officers were already having a busy day with 53 calls for service when they received the reports. It's unclear whether anyone involved faces charges or fines.

"As the temperature rises and more people are out enjoying the hot weather, the number of animals in distress calls increase for the police," Cpl. Chris Dovell of West Shore RCMP said in a statement.

"We are asking pet owners to please ensure they do not leave pets inside hot vehicles. If you see an animal in potential distress, attempt to provide them with water and shade and try to locate the owner."

Dogs have no sweat glands and can only cool off by releasing heat by panting and releasing heat through their paws.

Because of that, they can only withstand hot temperatures for a short while before suffering irreparable brain damage.

The BC SPCA said outside of the South Island, it was a busy weekend for officers elsewhere in the province as well.

"We got 37 calls to the BC SPCA's provincial call centre over the weekend alone just in two days," said Annie Prittie-Bell, branch manager for the BC SPCA in Victoria.

She said the message to pet owners is a simple one.

"Leave your animals at home. There is no other message," said Prittie-Bell. "It's not keep your animals safe in your car, cool them down – it is leave them at home. It's honestly the safest way."

The organization says it remains illegal for bystanders to break a window to access a vehicle if an animal is locked inside, and those incidents should instead be reported immediately to local law enforcement or the BC SPCA hotline.

"We're not asking people to go breaking windows. Contact animal control who can come and take temperatures and make sure they're doing all the right steps," she said. "They're authorized to break those windows if necessary if an animal's in distress."

Urgent situations should be reported immediately to the BC SPCA call centre at 1-855-622-7722, animal control or local police.

The call centre is open seven days per week, Monday to Friday from 9-5:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9-5 p.m.