Over the last week, I’ve been taking my girls Tsuki, my 11 year old Schnoodle, and CJ, my 8 month of Chihuahua to the dog park on a daily basis. They love it, they get great exercise, and CJ gets to work on being well socialized with other dogs. Today’s trip was planned to coincide around a tutoring appointment Alyssa had. I would drive her to her appointment, go pick up a free drink from Starbucks, hang out for a bit, before picking her back up again and heading to the park.
I ran for the bathroom and did my business. From where I was, I could hear it when Tsuki, and then CJ started barking loudly. I finished up as quick as I could, all told about a minute, maybe a minute and a half. As soon as I got out of the bathroom I was accosted by an older woman, who asks me if those are my dogs.
I could already sense that this was about to be trouble, but I answered yes.
She starts in right away telling me that I should crack the windows much wider. I tried to explain that I had done so, specifically because the air in the car was cold when I left for the washroom. I wanted there to be flowing air, but not so much as to let all the cold air escape. Moreover, since my dogs are small, opening the window too much creates a risk that they can squeeze out and end up in traffic. She didn’t bother listening but instead started in on how irresponsible I was and how she almost broke my window.
At this point, I was annoyed. After going out of my way to make sure my dogs were safe, once again I was being threatened by someone who decided they knew better. I responded calmly “and if you had, I would have called the police. Especially since I left my door unlocked just in case something happened that kept me from getting to them in time.”
The lady by this point decided that I wasn’t apologetic enough and started in on yelling at me. This mind you is right in front of my car, where both my dogs are alarmed at the fact that their mommy is being verbally assaulted by some stranger. Finally, she starts in on the threats of reporting me for animal cruelty. Annoyed I told her that if she did, I would just explain to them that I left the dogs with a fan, water, and the window cracked. If she had a problem, she should talk to starbucks to make it possible for people to bring their dogs in when they need to use the restroom.
I get in my car and notice that she is still staring at me and dialing a number furiously. Convinced that she is calling the humane society on me, I try again to explain, calmly: “I have crohn’s disease which sometimes forces me to use the bathroom without warning…”
Before I could even finish, she cut me off saying she didn’t care about my problems, continuing dialing the phone. Furious I shut the door, and just ignored her.
This isn’t the first time this had happened to me, hence the note. I travel with my dogs, and while I do my best to arrange it so I don’t have to leave them alone, sometimes my crohn’s has other plans.
Let’s be clear: Leaving dogs in the car on a hot day is dangerous. The temperature inside the car goes up fairly quickly. If you have any other option, do not leave your pets alone in the car. If you, like me, don’t have the option it’s important to make sure the windows are open a bit, that your pets have access to water, and if possible, leave a fan going in the car to keep the air moving. That being said, even responsible car owners have to use the restroom sometimes. There are ways to leave your pets in the vehicle safely, but at that point, the bigger risk become well-meaning people who put your pets in more danger.
If you find a dog in a car on a hot day, follow these steps before breaking a window.
- Check the dog itself:
- Is it lethargic? Breathing heavily? Are they passed out and not responding to taps on the window? Are they vomiting or have they thrown up?
If yes, then that dog has been in the car too long and is experiencing signs of distress and heat stroke. See the below to find the appropriate steps necessary.
- If not, however, then there is a good chance that the owners just ran inside for a moment. Breaking a window is premature and could put the dog at more risk than just leaving it would.
- Touch the window. Is it cold? Then the owners probably haven’t been gone very long.
- Are there signs anywhere in or on the car regarding the dog? Someone who bothered to leave a sign is probably aware of the danger and has only left their dog because they had no choice and will be right back.
- Stay with the car, that way you will know when the owner gets back and you can move along.
- Have the store page the owner of the vehicle.
What if the animals are showing signs of severe distress?
- Call the SPCA and report an animal emergency, follow their instructions.
- Have the store page the owner of the vehicle
- Check to see if the door is unlocked first.
Note: barking is not necessarily a sign of distress. A dog that is alert, jumping up, barking, and otherwise acting like a normal dog is not suffering from heat stroke.
DO NOT BREAK A WINDOW UNLESS INSTUCTED BY THE SPCA, THE POLICE, or AS A LAST RESORT WHEN THE ANIMAL IS IN A COMA.
Breaking a window can actually be extremely dangerous.
It can cause the animals severe distress as they are dealing with a stranger who is breaking into their territory. Tsuki for example gets anxious around people, and even tapping on the windows causes her distress. Stressing out an animal is not helping.
Breaking a window leads to broken glass, which a dog who is currently overwhelmed either by the heat or by the fact that a stranger just broke into their space is likely to hurt themselves on. You aren’t doing the animal much good if you cause it a serious injury in the name of helping.
Breaking a car window is still an act of vandalism and you risk problems with the police regardless of your intentions.
I love animals, and am a believer that they should be treated with respect, dignity, and not harmed. But I also realize that sometimes situations come up that are outside the owners control. I believe that most establishments would do well to relax some of the restrictions surrounding animals. If I had been allowed to, I would have gladly brought my girls into the bathroom with me and avoided the car problem altogether.
Be safe this summer, but also be reasonable.
By the way, when I got in the car, the air was still cold from the blasted air conditioning. My dogs however were both anxious and upset over having watched someone yell at their mommy. To the woman who felt the need to harass me, thanks for distressing my animals rather and acting all holier than thou rather than actually paying attention to what was going on.