Welcoming sunshine and 80 degree temperatures in Boone also comes with downsides.
I was coming out of Harris Teeter recently about noon, and while putting groceries in my car, the hair stood up on the back of my neck as I heard a sorrowful bark of a dog in distress.
The bark and whine led me to look about the parking lot. Inside a black VW, at the far end of the lot, was a middle-aged, black dog crying, panting and shaking. Eighty degree temps in 10 minutes can reach 100 degrees in such a vehicle. Even with windows cracked, pets and children die of heatstroke. It only takes a few minutes for the interior of a vehicle to reach dangerous temperatures
I drove my car down to it and proceeded to call the Boone Police. I advised them that if the dog showed heat exhaustion or stroke I would remove it from the vehicle. I was ordered to stand away and wait for police, who arrived about 15 minutes later — a long time watching the dog’s discomfort rise.
The owner came back 10 minutes after the call and the likely explanation went, “I was only gone five minutes.” I exclaimed that I’d been out there for 20 minutes. I knew this because, although my frozen foods were defrosting, this dog was more important. I suggested he turn on the air conditioner and give the dog water while he was prancing around expressing displeasure at my nerve of confronting him about his dog.
Upon arrival, one officer seemed concerned about the dog being left in the heat. The other officer said the dog did not look distressed.
I offered my opinion, that of course not — he’s had air conditioning and water for 10 minutes. I imagined that officer thought it was an emergency only if the animal was passed out with it tongue extended and eyes rolled back.
The officer said, “I like to ride with my dog.” Well I like to ride with my dogs as well, but I would never leave them on a hot day in the car.
We have a general statute in North Carolina 14.360 — animals are not allowed to be left in vehicles when doing so may lead to suffering, injury or death.
If you feel as I do, please call your local law enforcement agency, express your opinion and ask for a quick response time for distressed animals in vehicles and for patrols of parking lots on hot days. If you have an abundance of time, call your state representatives and thank them for animal protection laws.
Animals only have our voice to speak for them.