Leading animal charities have expressed ‘serious concerns’ over Tesla’s Dog Mode, which is designed to keep pets cool in unattended cars.
The software update, which has been made available on all Tesla models this week, allows owners to leave the air conditioning on in their cars to keep their pets cool.
However, national animal charities have said they believe that under no circumstances should dogs be left unattended in cars, as they could ‘die in minutes’ if the technology failed.
Holly Barber, RSPCA campaign manager, said: “Technology can fail and it isn’t worth the risk of injury to your pet to put them in this situation. We would advise owners to leave them at home if they know they are going to be away for a longer time.”
Tesla announced Dog Mode this week. It not only cools the car but also informs passers-by via a message on the infotainment screen that the owner will be returning soon and not to worry.
The mode remains on when occupants leave the vehicle and they receive a notification via Tesla’s mobile app if the car’s charge drops below 20% while Dog Mode is in use.
However, animal charities are not only concerned the technology could fail or be incorrectly set, they also fear that it inadvertently promotes the wrong message to other car owners that leaving a dog in a car is acceptable.
The idea of a Dog Mode was first suggested directly to Elon Musk last October by Twitter user John Atchely. He said: “Can you put a dog mode on the Tesla Model 3. Where the music plays and the [air conditioning] is on, with a display on screen saying ‘I’m fine my owner will be right back’?”. Musk simply responded “Yes”, before announcing the feature’s introduction earlier this week.
A spokesman for Tesla said: “This feature keeps your dog at a comfortable temperature in your car while letting people passing by know that the owner will be back soon.”