Dogs and Hot Cars: The Real Tragedy

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.

http://vp.mgnetwork.net/viewer.swf?u=545bef440204102fb207001ec92a4a0d&z=TRI&embed_player=1

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.

35 thoughts on “Dogs and Hot Cars: The Real Tragedy

  1. No… criminal charges are NOT an answer. The only answer to all this is a break from constantly busy mind. No matter if you ARE busy or not, your mind is in constant state of flux… and this flux causes people to forget everything they have read, seen or been taught about safety and dangers of heat exhaustion.

    Your state of mind or affairs should never dictate your choice of taking your pet and/or children around. If you take them with you, be with them no matter where you go, else postpone wherever you are going.

    I know I might sound harsh when I say this. But I believe the hurt and pain of accidently killing or harming your pets/ children is much harsher than inconvenience of having them around with you all the time.

    Like

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It really is heartbreaking from every perspective. I agree completely that our children and our pets need to be our top priority when it comes to safety. That’s why even when it is a total pain, I always drive home from the dog park to drop Shiva off before I go on any errands. It takes a lot more time, but it’s not worth the risk.

      Like

    • Exactly. And I don’t know how this can be changed. It’s like everything else, no one thinks they are going to get caught. No one thinks they are going to get in an accident if they are drinking and driving. But it happens all the time.

      Like

  2. Leave your dog at home if you are doing errands – or – if you can – bring your dog with you -just like you would your child

    Like

    • For sure. No matter how inconvenient it is to do so, it’s better than the potential disaster. Perhaps I am over paranoid about this kind of thing now, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing!

      Like

  3. I think the thing that bothers me the most is that people do not understand the concept of time. A minute – it’s only 60 seconds. It’s ridiculous to think that running in to buy milk or going into the bank or the mall is going to take only a minute. It will take a minute just to walk inside – depending on how far away the store or item inside the store is. Do people really think that the clock only begins once they are in line for whatever item they had to have? I think the concept of “just a minute” is seriously skewed. People say the same thing when their child drowns in the tub or the pool – I was only gone a “minute”. Impossible. If it really was just a minute – would there be so many unnecessary tragedies? At least people could be honest about how long they were gone – I mean obviously it was more than sixty seconds.

    Maybe if someone actually timed how long it took someone to get through the mall or the store for that one item – it would help people understand. It may seem remedial – having to reeducate folks on learning how to tell time, but if it helps save at least one life, then maybe it’d be worth it.

    Like

    • Anything is worth the effort if it saves lives. I know several car manufacturers have worked with humane societies to put thermometers on car windows to show the temperature in the interior of the vehicle. If it gets people thinking about it more, or maybe even second-guessing themselves, I am all for it!

      Like

  4. In the case this week about the dog that died in the hot car in Toronto, the owners are being charged with causing unnecessary suffering to an animal under animal cruelty legislation.

    I think this is appropriate.

    Like

    • I agree. Completely appropriate. That’s why I wonder if new legislation would help. If we make it officially against the law to leave a dog alone in a car when the temperature is over, say 15 degrees Celsius, would that make people pause before doing so? If there is even just a fine, maybe more people would choose to leave their dogs at home.
      I know the Canadian criminal code does make room for any animal in distress but that can be a tough thing to prove. Nova Scotia has laws about smoking in a car with children, so why not something like this?

      Like

  5. I think it’s also important for bystanders to take action. If we see a dog in a car on a hot day, we need to do something about it. Do we call the police in this situation?

    Like

    • I’m keeping a brick in my car. I’ll call the cops with the license number, give them 5 minutes (if that) to contact the owner, then smash the window for the dog, cat or baby. Then, I’ll press charges.

      Like

    • Definitely call the police. I don’t want to discount the efforts of bystanders as I know they have saved many a dog’s – and child’s – life in the past. Members of the general public should definitely be informed what to do. If you see a dog alone in a car on a warm day, I recommend calling the police immediately.

      Like

  6. It’s so sad, and like you said, I’m sure it’s not done maliciously. I feel bad for the person who just forgot that Gus was in the car….how terrible. I couldn’t have watched the video either. 😦

    Like

    • Me too. It was hard to read even that much. The man in the video I did link to was also in pretty rough shape, understandably. He thought he was doing the right thing, he thought his dog was fine. It just breaks your heart on every level.

      Like

  7. We had a case in our town a couple of years ago when an otherwise responsible but highly distracted man left his ten-month-old sleeping child in the car to die a horrible death while he was at work. I don’t think there is any answer to preventing something like this, but all of us do a lot more peering through car windows than ever before.

    Like

    • That’s a very good point. The more the public is aware of the problem, hopefully the more action can be taken quickly. I know a lot of people who spend a lot of time scouting parking lots in the summer to make sure there are no dogs in distress. It’s a wonderful thing to do and I am sure it makes a difference.

      Like

  8. I think the pace of life has to slow down. Often, these things happen because people are distracted and have too much on their minds. It’s usually how parents end up leaving babies in cars, too. And maybe we need to be more European and have more places that allow dogs to come inside. Dogs are even welcome at restaurants overseas and here in North America, we’re giddy when we can find a place that allows them in!

    Like

    • That’s a great solution! I completely agree that if more stores were more pet-friendly, this would reduce the number of dogs left alone in parking lots. Obviously not all stores can do so, such as ones that sell groceries, but I do think shopping malls could make a greater effort to be more accomodating to dog owners. Even if only because it may help save lives. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful marketing campaign for any mall or store?

      Like

  9. Hi Kristine, my mom and dad make it a point to scan the cars they walk past on their way into a shopping mall. Once my dad spotted a dog in a car on a warmish day and while the windows were rolled down about an inch, he went into the mall and got a security guard to come out to the car. The guard said that because the windows were down an inch, there wasn’t anything that he could do. But he promised to keep an eye on the car. My dad thought that this was odd but the guard said that the RCMP would not come over and unlock the car. After the guard promised to “keep an eye” on the dog by staying out in the parking lot until the owners came back, my dad finally left. My dad says that that would be a horrible way to die. Leave your dogs and cats at home. Oh Kristine, if you can convince my mom to let me have a cat, that would be great. Thanks, Sam.

    Like

  10. My personal rule is that if it is uncomfortably warm for me to sit in the car, it is too hot for the dogs to wait in the car. If I would feel comfortable waiting in the car (say, reading a book waiting to meet someone), I am okay with having the dogs along. However, I do always have a water bowl in the car (it is the most effective spill proof bowl I have ever found) and if there is even a question in my mind about if I should leave the dog sitting, the dog either comes with me when I get out of the car or stays at home.

    Like

  11. I was just thinking about this the other day when I was talking to a client at the vet and he said he had left his dog in the car while he ran into the mall for a few minutes,(it was about 90 degrees) he said he came back out and a lady stopped him and said it was to hot in the car fro his dog, he replied that his dog lays in the sun all the time and he is use to the heat. I was floored at his comment and explained to him why it was too hot for his dog to be left in car, the man had no idea his car could get that hot. This man was at least 60 years old, had no clue. It’s sad.

    Like

  12. I cannot begin to understand why anyone would take their dog with them in the car once the temps get past 70 degrees. I also get angry when I see people running with their dogs when the temperatures are in the 80’s. HELLO . . you are running in a tank top and shorts and your dog still has on a FUR COAT.

    I try to believe that people are doing the best that they can, but sometimes, it’s just really not enough. It’s almost like there needs to be a law that dogs are not allowed in cars (or as running partners ) after the temperature reaches 70. It’s maddening. 😦

    Like

  13. Even on a cooler over-cast day the interior of the car heats up. I rarely if ever take the dogs with me to the store and usually Hubby is with me and stays with the dogs. There has been ocassion when I’ve had to stop for milk and popped into the convenience store for two minutes. In that instance I leave the car running with the air conditioner on AND I part in front of the store so my eyes are on them most of the time.

    I don’t know how to get through to people about leaving their dogs in their cars. If I see a dog in car on a hot day, I call animal control. Much rather have them come out and chastise someone than to see a dead dog.

    I’ve also called when the a-hole neighbor put their puppy outside in a plastic crate when it was 90 degrees.

    I’m still debating on whether to call on our across the street neighbor who locks their three bull dogs out on the deck while they go to work. Some days those dogs are out there for 12 hours or more. To their credit they do leave a wading pool and I haven’t gotten close enough to see what else, but I think it’s awful.

    Like

  14. I think one reason for this problem recurring with dogs is that you can’t take dogs into so many places. Now, OK, you can leave your dog at home while you drive to buy milk, but this can mean leaving them alone for a much longer time – and most dogs are already left alone far more than is really ideal for a species that evolved as a companion animal, so I have a lot of sympathy for people who would rather stop on the way home from a trip with their dog than take the dog home and then make another journey.

    I’d really like to see shops making a greater effort to welcome dogs with their owners. I appreciate that you probably don’t want dogs right inside clothes stores, or right next to counters displaying food, but surely it should be possible to provide a fast-track counter or window in some shops, specifically to allow dog owners to grab milk and bread and a newspaper without leaving their dogs in the car? Why do shops have to be isolated deep within no-dogs malls? Why do so many places exclude dogs for no good reason?

    The more ‘no dogs allowed’ spaces there are, the less dogs are part of day to day life, the more likely it is that this sort of problem is going to arise.

    Like

  15. Way behind, (so what is new?). When it is a warm day and I am walking through a parking lot and hear a dog barking, I just cringe. I do not want to police other people, but I have been known to alert people that they have placed their pet in an unsafe situation. Some summer dog shows we go to actually have people patrolling the parking lot and if they find a dog left unattended in a hot car, they will boot the person from the show.

    Like

  16. Pingback: Hot Car = Dead Dog « jodistone

  17. Pingback: Real-world Products For Workouts – The Options! « murafeliza

  18. What happens if you combine Restaurant City from Facebook and a Zombie Game.
    The other terminologies in bowling games are turkey, which means three strikes in a row, and
    a split, which means a wide gap between the remaining pins after a throw.
    The player may represent any country and play against other countries.

    Like

Comments are closed.