It doesn’t matter if it’s been five minutes or twenty. It doesn’t matter if the windows are rolled down or closed tight. It doesn’t matter if a person has done it a hundred times before without a problem – or just once. Dogs should never be left alone in a vehicle on a warm day.
There have been some powerful posts on the subject on No Dog About It and on Pup Love. Both are filled with all the information a person could need when trying to decide if she should bring her dog along to the mall. The purpose of this post isn’t to repeat that information. As I said in a comment, I don’t truly know if education is the answer to such an awful recurring disaster. The dialogue is out there. Veterinarians, humane organizations, concerned citizens, stores, museums, even car companies all advertise the dangers of leaving dogs alone in vehicles on warm days. Dog owners know the risks. For that matter, parents of young children know the risks.
And yet every year there are still horrific stories in the news about pets and infants dying in cars.
The thing is, no one thinks it’s going to happen to them. I don’t think for a second anyone does it out of maliciousness. Most owners love their dogs as much as we do. They know the dangers but don’t consider how quickly the temperatures can rise. They have busy, super-speed lives and forget what it’s like to return to the car after even just fifteen minutes of shopping. How warm it is even for a person inside. “I’ll just be a minute”, or “I’m just popping in for some milk.”
Or, like the writer of an anonymous online letter, people forget their dogs are even there.
“When I returned to my home, I somehow was distracted – still not sure how or why, but two of the dogs got out of the car and poor Gus was left in the car. Unfortunately it was 95 degrees. Several hours later, when my husband returned home from work, he asked me where Gus was. I said I think he’s got to be here somewhere…all of a sudden I thought “oh God, please don’t tell me I left him in the car”.”
A few months ago I watched a video put together by an owner of a dog who died in the backseat of a car. It was pretty terrible to watch and I admit, I didn’t see the whole thing. I looked for it to show you today but unfortunately – or fortunately, depending on your emotional state – I couldn’t find it.
However, I was able to find this story from July of last year. Brandon Kincaid left his three-year old pit bull Greedy in the car while he went on an errand. Even though he went to check on her every ten minutes, even though the windows were down, Greedy died on the scene of heat exhaustion.
How do we stop this from happening? Are criminal charges the answer? How do we prevent one more dog from suffering in this way?
I don’t know if we can. I think that’s the real tragedy of it all.
Eep! How could I forget the kitties? As part of Petfinder’s Adopt a Shelter Cat Month, I am taking a minute every day in June to share the photos of cats waiting for their forever homes.
This is Fraggle at the Red Deer & District SPCA. He is around five years old and a very lean seven pounds. He is also quite the looker with his unusual markings. A future kitty blog star, perhaps?
Pickles here on the right, on the other hand, has a quieter beauty. Her wide amber eyes speak of wisdom far beyond her years. Her friends at MetroWest Humane Society say her looks are matched evenly by her sweetness. Her sister Piper is also at the shelter in Ashland and the two of them are guaranteed to wiggle into anyone’s heart in no time.