As a nation, the United States is pretty dog-friendly. Figures in 2017 showed that nearly 90 million dogs were kept as pets, an increase of over 20 million since the turn of the century. Apparently, that equates to roughly 40% of the households across the 50 states. Unfortunately, while many people love their canine companions, some don’t treat their pooches with the level of care they deserve.
A big responsibility
Looking after a dog – or any animal for that matter – is no easy task. You’re responsible for the life of another, and that isn’t something that should be taken lightly.
Sadly, not everyone puts in the effort they should with their pet pooches. That’s never clearer than when it comes to dogs being left in the car.
For years, people have locked their canine companions in the car. They can’t take their pet with them into somewhere like the grocery store, so they leave them behind in the vehicle. While this situation might not always be avoidable, it’s essential that it’s dealt with in the right way.
Opening the window a little won’t make a difference to the dog if it’s hot outside. Even if they’re only left for a few minutes, they still need cool air and access to water. Unfortunately, that’s something this woman didn’t provide, which is why a cop took matters into his own hands.
Trapped in the heat
The incident happened at Bullocks Supermarket in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. The woman left her dog in the car for what she claimed was less than ten minutes while she did some shopping.
It was when she was in the store that an officer discovered the vehicle and realized an animal was inside. Considering it was apparently over 90°F outside, he was concerned that the dog would overheat. He used a chart to judge what the temperature was inside the car, working out that it had probably hit 100°F after just a few minutes. That simply wasn’t acceptable.
Waiting for her return
Fearing for the animal, the officer waited by the car for the owner to return. If she didn’t come back quickly enough, he would have acted appropriately to get the dog out and ensure they were safe. Fortunately for the pet’s owner, she came back before any damage was done to her car.
However, the cop was not too pleased with her. He asked her why she thought it was okay to abandon her poor pooch in the vehicle on such a hot day. She defended herself, saying that she’d only been gone a few minutes, but that wasn’t good enough.
Try it yourself
As the woman checked on her dog, she assured that the inside of the car wasn’t too warm. She believed the officer was overreacting and that she was being singled out for no reason. That’s why the cop then supposedly told her to sit in the car herself and see if she could handle the heat.
He apparently told her to close the windows and turn off the AC while he wrote her a citation. The request wasn’t one that the women appreciated, especially given she’d only been there to pick up a few groceries. That didn’t bother the cop though.
Learning a lesson
Of course, there was a good reason that the cop told her to do this. If the owner thought that the car wasn’t too warm for the dog to sit in, then surely she would cope fine in it as well. He wanted her to realize how bad the conditions can get in a parked car, especially when it’s so warm outside.
With no air to cool things down, it only takes a few minutes for the interior to get too hot. That can become incredibly dangerous, especially if there are dogs locked inside. No animal deserves to boil alive like that.
Embarrassed and alone
By the time the cop left her alone, the woman felt embarrassed and angry. She didn’t appreciate how she’d been treated by the officer, especially as she believed she’d done nothing wrong. In her eyes, the car was perfectly safe for her dog to stay in.
Plus, she hadn’t even been gone that long. However, the cop still thought it necessary to make a show of everything and humiliate her. She didn’t enjoy being told to sit in the car, and she considered his approach to everything as “abusive.” Clearly, she didn’t learn the lesson he was trying to teach her.
Help from the media
The woman was so angry about what went down that she took her case to the media. She believed that she’d received unfair treatment from the police and wanted retribution for what had happened. That’s why she contacted KOB 4 and asked them to look into the incident.
She was sure that she had a case against the police department and wanted help getting her story out there. So, the news broadcasters agreed to investigate the situation and see what they uncovered. However, their findings did nothing to give the woman the upper hand. If anything, they just made her problem worse.
Caught on camera
In her case against the New Mexico police officer, the woman made several claims about the cop. Not only did she refer to him as abusive, but she also stated that he forced her to sit in the car as punishment for leaving her dog behind.
Her account certainly painted quite a picture of what unraveled outside the grocery store. However, it seems the pet owner didn’t realize that the officer was wearing a camera on his lapel when they crossed paths. Everything that happened that day was caught on film, and it proved exactly what unfolded in Truth or Consequences.
Why so serious?
KOB 4 aired parts of the officer’s footage during a news broadcast, and it gave viewers a glimpse of how the woman dealt with the situation outside Bullocks. Despite the serious nature of the incident, she didn’t seem to be taking things to heart.
She even appeared to be laughing at times, something that the cop picked up on. He was trying to drum into her the importance of being a good pet owner, but she didn’t want to listen. She saw the whole thing as more of an inconvenience than a chance to learn and improve herself.
Debunking her claims
What’s more, the footage also showed that the cop wasn’t as forceful as the women had suggested. According to her, he’d practically demanded that she sit in the car and see what she’d put her pet through. However, that wasn’t what unfolded on screen.
Instead, the officer had suggested she try spending time in the car given she didn’t think it was too hot. There was no aggression in his voice, just a tinge of sarcasm. He didn’t see why she’d have a problem sitting in there without the AC on considering she was more than happy for her dog to do so.
No leg to stand on
Unfortunately, the woman wasn’t around to defend herself when this new evidence came to light. She was too busy to talk to the news broadcasters when the story aired, something which no doubt worked against her.
She’d gone to the media believing they’d be on her side, but their investigation just dug her an even deeper hole. Now, she had a reputation as a bad dog owner with very little chance of fixing things. It goes to show that things don’t always work in your favor when you make claims that you can’t back up.
A common problem
Unfortunately, while someone was around to punish this pet owner, there are plenty of people who still get away with leaving their dogs in the car. It’s sadly very common for these animals to be abandoned in vehicles, despite what the weather is like outside.
People think it’s perfectly safe to leave their pets behind when they need to do something, especially if they’re only gone for a few minutes. However, what might just be a matter of seconds to them can feel like a lifetime to these poor pooches. Time is of the essence when they’re trapped in a hot car.
We need more education
The main reason this still happens is likely because people aren’t educated enough about what happens to dogs left in cars. So many pet owners don’t realize how susceptible their animals are to the heat, especially when they’re in a vehicle.
If more were done to improve knowledge of the situation, there would be far fewer fatalities year after year. Last year, PETA reported that 58 animals had lost their lives due to the hot weather, with most of these occurring in vehicles. Likewise, the RSPCA recently revealed that they’d had around 65,000 heat exposure incidents in the last decade.
Not designed for the heat
When a dog is faced with intense heat, they don’t respond in the same way that humans do. If a person is overheating, they can grab themselves some water, sit in front of a fan, or find other ways to cool down. Dogs don’t have that option, especially as they can’t communicate what they need.
What’s more, these animals don’t sweat, so their bodies don’t have a way to cool down when the temperature becomes too extreme. Instead, they just keep getting hotter until their organs fail and shut down. Sadly, this can happen in the space of a few minutes.
If all else fails
Given how urgently dogs need to be treated in these situations, people have a right to take action wherever possible. Obviously, you shouldn’t immediately break into someone’s car if you see a dog inside on a hot day. However, that is a potential option if you can’t get help from the police.
Just make sure to get plenty of evidence if you do end up doing this. Take a photo of the pooch inside the car and ask any potential witnesses for their contact information. You’ll want proof that you were trying to save the animal, not merely damaging property.
It’s more important than ever for people to think before leaving their dogs in their vehicle. Temperatures seem to be rising every year, with summer heatwaves more common than before. It’s during these periods of intense heat that animals are most vulnerable, so the more often they occur, the greater the risk.
When there’s a heatwave, no animal should ever be left in a car, even if only for a minute or two. It takes no time at all for the vehicle’s interior to become warmer than the air outside. When that happens, your dog is in big trouble.
There have been numerous cases of people being punished for abandoning their pet pooches in cars. In June, a woman from Phoenix received a citation for animal neglect after leaving her two dogs to suffer in 96°F heat. The canines had no access to water and only partially-opened windows to keep them cool.
Another man from Yates County received a similar punishment last year when he left his pet in the car for over an hour. It was equally hot outside, and the animal was visibly distressed when a hospital employee noticed him in the vehicle. The owner was later charged with animal cruelty.
Too late for them
Unfortunately, not every dog who gets abandoned on a hot day survives their ordeal. In July, three pooches from Rhode Island were discovered too late after their owner left them in the car for “an extended period of time.” Without any water or air conditioning to cool them down, the animals had to suffer in the boiling hot vehicle until the heat became too much to handle.
It was believed that temperatures were in around 125°F when they were eventually released. In light of the incident, the owner faces five years behind bars for unnecessary cruelty to animals.
A passionate protector
While it’s sad seeing these lives lost for no good reason, we appreciate how many people out there are willing to help a dog in need. One man from the UK is very passionate about these animals to the point he vocally berated someone for abandoning their pet in their car.
The temperature outside was around 90°F when he noticed a dog panting in this person’s vehicle. He waited for the woman to return before telling her that her behavior wasn’t acceptable, especially on such a hot day. That’s when things suddenly got heated between the pair.
Taking a stand
It seems the woman took great offense at being called out for her actions. She said she had no choice but to leave the dog in the car, but that excuse didn’t go down well. The duo soon began exchanging curse words as he accused her of being a bad pet owner.
He later referred to her behavior as “disgusting” and said anyone who abandons their dog like that should have them taken away. When his story was shared online, many people took his side. They agreed that there was no justifying leaving a dog like that on such a hot day.
It’s time to change
With any luck, stories like this will inspire people to think twice about their actions when it’s hot outside. Unless you can ensure they’re looked after while you’re gone, you should never leave these animals in the car. The risk is too great, and it’s not worth paying the price if you don’t return to the vehicle in time.
It might be inconvenient taking your dog with you wherever you’re going, but surely that’s better than losing them to the heat. Plus, if it’s such an issue, don’t bring them with you in the first place – leave them at home.