“Try being sympathetic, not ignorant”

First real post. Let’s “Try being sympathetic, not ignorant”.

To start, I want you to be free of distraction for just a minute. No music, no talking, just relax and paint this picture in your mind.

You hear whimpering, frantic scratching on a door, or window, loud barking and anxious feet pacing on the seats of a car. Someone has left their puppy in their vehicle, alone and in distress.

The first puppy in distress I saw this summer was in the Safeway parking lot in Selkirk. I’d gone to pick up a few groceries and I heard a dog barking and scratching at a car door. The window was barely cracked and this sweet little dog was clearly begging for my attention. I looked around but there wasn’t anyone in sight. I’d never wished I’d had a crowbar so badly in my life!! The poor thing was jumping frantically all over the backseat of the vehicle, panting and exhausted. No water was left for it to drink and it had to be 30+ degrees outside, making it even hotter inside the car. My heart sank and I felt awful, but I had no idea what to do. I quickly bought my groceries and by the time I was done the car was gone.

After seeing this firsthand, I had to take action. I had to know what I could do to help if I found myself in that situation again.

Thanks to the Winnipeg Humane Society and the Winnipeg Police Service, I found my answer quickly. I read that if you see a pet left alone in a vehicle and are concerned for its safety, notify the business closest to where the vehicle is parked in attempts to find the owner. You can also call the Winnipeg Humane Society Emergency Response line and if necessary, call the police non-emergency line.

STEP 1 is to write down the vehicle’s license plate. Find the nearest open business and let them know that someone has left their dog distressed in their vehicle. The employee should then read the license plate over the intercom. Best case scenario is someone comes to claim the vehicle, and the dog is let out of the car.

STEP 2 is to call Winnipeg Humane Society Emergency Response, if no one comes to claim the vehicle, and you fear for the dog’s life. Their phone number is 204-982-2020. An Animal Protection Officer will come and rescue the animal.

STEP 3 if by chance that doesn’t work, is to call the police non-emergency line at 204-986-6222. An officer will be sent, and if the owner is found, could then be charged.

*HELPFUL HINT* Jot down these steps as a reminder in your phone, or agenda. Something you always have on you. I’ve also added the phone numbers into my contacts.

The second time this happened, it was around 9 o’clock at night and I’d just seen The Dark Knight Rises at SilverCity St.Vital. Walking through the Chapters parking lot, I heard loud barking but couldn’t see anyone out walking a dog. In an SUV a few stalls away from my truck, a puppy was barking and pawing at an unopened window. I put the license plate sequence into my phone and ran into Chapters. I asked them to page the plate over their intercom. They did, but no one came. My heart was racing just thinking of how long that tiny puppy could have been in that SUV. The mall closed at nine and I started to worry that the owner may have gone to see a movie! As I walked down the aisle to leave the store, I saw someone leave a few steps ahead of me. The owner of the SUV got into his car and sped away. I knew he knew he was guilty.

Dogs in distress don’ have to be pacing around their space. They get dehydrated and tired very easily in uncomfortable weather. Photo: iwantapounddog.blogspot.com

The third time was in Grand Marais, Manitoba. A friend and I were shopping at an open-air market when a mom and her two young daughters pulled up and left their mid-size dog in their teeny tiny car. The windows weren’t open any more than an inch – in the middle of JULY! I watched the dog jump from the front to the back, bark and try sticking its paw out the window. The mom heard the barking and told her girls to ignore it. She went inside with one of the girls, while the other shopped the market. I told the young girl how dangerous it is to leave someone you love inside a hot car and explained how she could get sick or hurt. The mom came out and saw that we’d taken the dog out of the car. She gave me a look as though I’d overstepped my boundaries, but before she could say anything, I pulled her aside and warned her that I was seconds away from getting her dog taken from her. Oddly, she thanked me for the info and told me she didn’t mean to be so careless, they’d had a long drive and she was tired.

People have been leaving their pets in vehicles for decades. Google “pets left in vehicles” and you’ll find photos and a ton of stories reporting the issue. Add “Winnipeg” after “vehicles” and you’ll find enough local stories to break your heart.

Here’s a couple articles [1, 2] that show how you can be detained or arrested for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

Make note of the phone numbers. Tell your friends and family. People know people who are guilty of the “I’ll only be 2 minutes” excuse. When you leave a pet in your car, they panic and react to their environment. The cold weather ahead of us this winter is no different. If a pet feels trapped, they’ll act that way. Some breeds are more prone to anxiety and this elevates when you leave them alone in your car. The Humane Society warns that while your dog may seem fine after being left in the vehicle for a while could suffer brain damage which could go unnoticed and lead to death.  It’s recommended, and better for their health to leave them at home.

If it’s one minute, or twenty, if it’s 10 degrees, or 40, it’s NEVER okay to leave

Enjoy the ride.  (no pun intended) -Sarah Tone

There no difference between heat outside after running around, or heat inside if they’re sitting in a car. Pets need hydration and airflow to be comfortable and healthy. Photo: smartdriving.co.uk

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