The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - Sh­eryl@sh­eryl­

On Monday af­ter­noon, I jumped out of my car in a Meadowlands park­ing lot to a bone-chill­ing sound. A dog bark­ing. It was 29 de­grees and the dog park was too far away for it to be com­ing from there, I thought. This pooch must be nearby.

I scanned the cars in the lot to see a lit­tle white fluff­ball stick­ing its head out of the cracked win­dow of a dark SUV. The owner, ob­vi­ously, wasn’t around.

I should men­tion, at this point, that I was parked in front of a shop peo­ple gen­er­ally spend some time in, not a service. Some­one left her (yes, it was a her) dog to die in a roast­ing car while she went shop­ping, not run­ning in and out of, say, a postal out­let or take-away sand­wich shop. Not that ei­ther of those are any bet­ter, but you know when the car is parked in front of a postal out­let, the owner might be back in a minute or two.

What was even more dis­turb­ing than lis­ten­ing to the sounds of a des­per­ate dog try­ing to claw it­self out of a roast­ing car was the fact that at least four other peo­ple walked by this car and didn’t bat an eye­lash. It didn’t seem to dis­turb them one bit.

Ear­lier this sum­mer when the days started to get hot, I told my­self that if and when (it’s al­ways when) I saw a dog stuck in a hot car, I would just call the po­lice. No more ne­go­ti­at­ing with irate dog own­ers too stub­born/ar­ro­gant/ mis­in­formed to know bet­ter than to leave a dog in a car when it’s roast­ing out­side. No more ar­gu­ments with store man­agers who feel it’s none of their busi­ness if a dog dies in a car in the park­ing lot of their shop. This year I would just call the po­lice and let the own­ers and store man­agers deal with them.

But I thought maybe the owner was at the front of the store or near the cash and get­ting her would be quicker. Fu­ri­ous and in­cred­i­bly up­set, I marched in­side with a photo of the li­cence plate and told the first cashier that they should make an an­nounce­ment for the owner of that car to re­turn to it or I would phone the po­lice in three min­utes and let them deal with the af­ter­math.

He did. He im­me­di­ately alerted the man­ager, who im­me­di­ately made an an­nounce­ment over the PA sys­tem and then waited for the guilty party to present her­self to the cash.

I saw her walk through the store, play­ing with her keys, prob­a­bly de­bat­ing whether she should just head back to her car, stay in the shop, face the mu­sic. She slowly, sheep­ishly walked back to her car and then sat in it for a few min­utes.

I waited and watched as they pulled away be­cause I’m that psy­chopath who will do stuff like that — watch them leave. And I hope you will be, too. Like I said, at least four other peo­ple walked past that car and thought noth­ing of it.

The Hamil­ton Burling­ton SPCA web­site re­ports that:

“Parked cars can quickly reach deadly tem­per­a­tures, even on rel­a­tively mild days with the car parked in the shade and the win­dows slightly open.

“Dogs have a lim­ited abil­ity to sweat; even a short time in a hot en­vi­ron­ment can be life-threat­en­ing. A dog’s nor­mal body tem­per­a­ture is about 39 C, a tem­per­a­ture of 41 can be with­stood only for a very short time be­fore ir­repara­ble brain dam­age or even death can oc­cur.

“Own­ers who choose to leave pets unat­tended in ve­hi­cles may face charges un­der the On­tario SPCA Act or the Crim­i­nal Code of Canada.”

I wrote about this is­sue last sum­mer, as well. I harp about it to any­one who will lis­ten. But un­til leav­ing a dog in a hot car be­comes as ap­palling to peo­ple as leav­ing your baby in a hot car, I think it de­serves some at­ten­tion.

And if you see a dog in a hot car, for God’s sake, do some­thing about it.


Un­til leav­ing a dog in a hot car be­comes as ap­palling to peo­ple as leav­ing your baby in a hot car, I think it de­serves some at­ten­tion.


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