I’d like to take the opportunity and use this week’s post to bring attention to something very serious that occurs far more often than anyone likes to think. Something which needs to stop immediately.
As we get into the warmer months of summer, people are out and about, shopping, dining, going to the beach, etc. While that’s all fine and dandy (it‘s good to get out in the sunshine), what isn’t fine and dandy is when people leave their pets locked in their vehicles with the windows rolled up or only cracked a mere inch while they’re out enjoying themselves and their pet is left to swelter.
This is animal cruelty. Pure and simple.
I’ve heard offenders defend their actions in doing this by saying things like “the animal is fine”, “it’s not that hot in the car“, “I was only gone a few minutes”, or the usual response I get, “mind your own f***ing business.” That, folks, is just pure ignorance. If it were a child left in the vehicle instead of an animal, the offender would face serious jail time. And if someone can do something that cruel to an animal, I can only fathom how they would (or do) treat a child.
The truth is, in warm weather, the temperature inside a vehicle, even with all of the windows cracked an inch or two, can skyrocket to dangerous, even lethal levels in mere minutes. We’ve all experienced this when returning to our vehicle from shopping in a store or dining in a restaurant during warmer months. The interior of the car doesn’t seem bad when you get out to go to your destination, but when you return, even if you’ve had the windows cracked open the whole time, the car is stifling. Would you want to sit in a vehicle like that and swelter all while wearing a fur coat, potentially getting heat stroke or even dying as a result? No? Exactly. Don’t do it to your pets and don’t let your friends or family do it to their pets.
If you happen to see an animal left unattended in a hot car while you’re walking through a parking lot (or anywhere for that matter), don’t just walk by. Take action. Write down the vehicle’s info (the make, model, color, license plate number), get pictures if you can (of the vehicle, the animal, and if possible the driver and any passengers should they show up), and call the police and/or animal control in the area you‘re in. Don’t pass the buck and think, “someone else will call.” Sadly, a vast majority of the time someone else won’t call. Be of the mindset that “If I don’t take action here, who will?“ If you don’t do something and just carry on your way with the hope someone will come along behind you and do the right thing, that animal could die in the meantime. You wouldn’t leave a child in that situation, don’t leave an animal.
I found out that sadly, in my state, businesses are blatantly turning their backs on this epidemic by holding staff meetings and outright telling their employees to not get involved when someone approaches them asking for help in these situations. They won‘t even allow employees, managers, or security guards to call over the intercom asking the owner of the vehicle to come to the front of the store and attend to their animal (but they‘ll call if someone bumps a vehicle with a shopping cart and leaves a scratch. How much sense does that make? A scratch is more important than an animal‘s life!? Please). I and my mother have been turned away many times when we’ve approached service desk employees in Walmart (That’s right, I’m naming names!) and were simply told to call the police (and sadly the police never even showed up). Outrageous!
Check your state/town’s laws. In some states (I wish mine was one of them), it’s legal for a good Samaritan to break a car window to rescue an animal in distress if other avenues of acquiring help fail. I’m not advocating breaking into a vehicle to rescue an animal without first going through the proper channels, but it’s good to know your options.
Think of the cities/towns you frequent (or if you plan to travel, look up your destination) and find the phone numbers of that area’s local police (it’s suggested you use the non-emergency number, that is, the direct line and not 911) and animal control. If you don’t get anywhere with one agency, call the other. If you still don’t get anywhere, call both of them back. Keep calling until you get somewhere.
But, if nothing comes of your valiant efforts, consider printing out at least the first page of the Humane Society’s “Hot Car Flyer” and leave it on the windshield of the offender’s vehicle (download the flyer here). You could also include a little note on the back letting the offender know you‘ve reported them to the authorities for animal cruelty. Maybe they’ll read it, have some compassion, and think twice next time.
And this cruelty isn’t limited to just in the warm months of summer, but also the cold months of winter when an animal could easily freeze to death.
There’s a simple solution for this epidemic that people could and should try. Leave your pet at home!
Be vigilant, folks. Take a stand for the animals in your city, your state, or wherever you happen to be at the moment (even if you’re just visiting the area), not just in situations like this, but wherever you see animal cruelty of any kind. Animals can’t speak for themselves so we have to be their voice. Act. You might just save a life.
Until next time…