FOUR dogs left in two vans in searing heat were rescued by emergency crews after concerned passers-by raised the alarm.

Horrified shoppers spotted a pair of French bulldogs locked in a silver van in Basildon town centre on Wednesday as temperatures neared 30 degrees.

Barking was also heard from another van in a town centre car park, off Great Oaks and opposite Basildon Fire Station, at 11.30am on Wednesday.

Concerned residents called the police immediately but have claimed they were initially told it was not a police matter.

Two hours later, as the situation worsened, Essex Police officers and fire crews attended, with firefighters managing to force the van’s door open.

According to witnesses, two dogs were in the front of the silver van while another two were in the rear of a red van.

The dogs were then taken away by the officers, with no sight of the owners.

One witness, who initially reported the incident to police, stated she was contacted by police later on Wednesday evening and told the owner had returned to collect the dogs, but only several hours later.

Essex Police have been contacted for comment, but were unable to provide any additional details before the Echo went to print.

One witness, who asked not to be named, said: “I saw the dogs and told the car park attendant.

“We stayed with the dogs but after two calls to police they said it wasn’t a police matter.

“A paramedic came over and she also stayed with us and her and another lady rang the police.

“I think they realised they had to send somebody then. The paramedic went to the fire station and fire fighters came over.

“They were extremely helpful. It was them who got the doors on vans open.

“The police came and secured the dogs on leads they were given water by the firefighters and then were taken to police station.”

The witness added: “I was there for two hours so they were there for a long while with no water.

“The firefighters were excellent and the police that did come out were really nice too.

“As I say other members of the public and car park attendant were involved too.” Essex Police failed to provide a comment when contacted by the Echo.