|Firefighters finally broke the back window of this death trap|
|A Chocolate Lab/Weimeraner mix|
A year earlier to the day a police dog died in the backseat of a squad car in Pennsylvania. A week after that the same thing happened in Huntsville to another Chocolate Lab. Later last summer, it happened again in Tennessee, only this time all the windows were down and the owner "checked on" his dog "every 10 minutes".
In this age of "Information Overload", when there are easily-obtainable facts at the click of a mouse and news stories - especially tragic news stories such as these - will reach us in North America almost within moments of them happening anywhere in the world, I find it absolutely unfathomable that there are still people out there who are competent enough to have a license to drive a car and to be able to feed and shelter a pet that are somehow completely oblivious to the mortal danger they are putting that same pet in every single time they leave them in a locked car for even a couple of minutes, especially in the summer heat. The poster shown at right can be found on a terrific British website called Don't Cook Your Dog. (Note: if you visit that site a podcast starts up immediately. I tell you this so you are not alarmed by it, because I found it to be rather loud. If you want to stop the podcast from playing, scroll about 1/6 of the way down the right-hand side and you will find a very tiny media player bar.) That is a terrific website which is full of information, advice, posters you can print off to start your own campaign and many other useful things.
It also contains a link to this PSA-type video, which attempts to shock people into understanding the message (with words and non-offensive imagery):
The first video I linked to (in the opening line of this post) offered three pretty good bits of advice as well, which I am transcribing here:
1) Never leave your dog in a parked car on a hot day, not even for a minuteThe problem I have with this advice as it pertains to what happened yesterday is that the passerby and the security people did everything "right" according to that list, but the dog died by the time the firefighters broke the window. Now, I am not advocating wanton destruction of private property here, but I will say without fear of contradiction that I personally would not have waited for the firefighters to arrive: I would have broken that window myself and brought the dog out of the car immediately. I understand why some people (even "Mall Security" officers, or perhaps especially them) might be reluctant to react in that extreme manner; I am only putting forth my personal position on the subject.
2) If you see an animal left in someone else's parked car in the heat, notify a store employee right away
3) If the pet's owner isn't located immediately, call animal control or the police
But what I would do is really of no consequence here. What really matters is getting people to understand that they must never ever leave any living creature inside a car even if the windows are down. There is absolutely no excuse for doing so, not even "I was only gone for a minute".
Just don't do it. Ever.
Maybe some day that incredibly simple message will finally sink in and we never will again have to hear the story of yet another tragic and avoidable loss of life. As I am a consummate cynic, I doubt that day will ever come. I would so dearly love to be proven wrong about people, just this once.
*****UPDATE: June 11, 5:40PM - even as I was writing this blog piece today it happened again in Toronto, only this time the dog didn't die. Completely baffling to me is the fact that this owner had her dog returned to her after only paying a fine of $260, even though she lied to the police. She said she had left "a bottle of water" for the dog to drink (as if that would somehow make any difference to a dog dying of heat prostration) but the cop on the scene said no water was found. It's quite clear to me that there needs to be some sort of training and testing procedure for people who want to adopt pets, because obviously trusting pet owners to do their own research is just not working out all that well.