I was thinking burritos when I looked up and saw a hot dog. I had just arrived at Mariachi’s Mexican restaurant, when the guy in the car parked next to mine jumped out and locked his car door, leaving her big black dogpanting in the back seat.
Goodbye burritos, hello dilemma. I knew I had to do something. But what?
“Do you know how hot it is? I called the guy, who was on his way to the restaurant entrance.
He turned around with a surprised look on his face. He was just a child. Maybe in late adolescence.
“I know someone whose dogs died because she left them in a hot car,” I told her. “When it’s 90 degrees like today, the temperature inside your car can soar to 120 within minutes.”
“I’ll be right back. I’m just picking up a carry,” he said.
I stood there like an idiot and watched him walk away.
I thought to stay alert until he comes back. Then I thought of breaking his legs.
I am not a violent person. But some things — like cruelty to children and animals — really get me going. A minute later, I walked into the restaurant – with no real plan – except to find this child, take him back to his car and relieve this poor dog.
I didn’t have to search very long. I found him at the service counter, waiting to have his dinner, just like he said he would.
Turns out his cousin works at Mariachi. He is a very nice man who has already served at my table. I guess the child is also very nice – unaware of how dangerous and cruel it is to leave your dog in a hot car.
And so I told him. Still.
“When you get back to your car, I want you to sit there and experience what your dog has been through,” I told her. “It’s going to be like an oven. You won’t last 30 seconds. And you’re in shorts and a T-shirt. Your dog is wearing a fur coat.
For good measure, I added, “If you hadn’t gone back to your car, I would have called the police.”
Unconditional? Maybe. But I was trying to make a point.
Later, my friend Claudia, whom I met at the restaurant, told me that the young man had held the door for her as he entered. He showed good manners and seemed very nice.
So why wasn’t he more considerate of his dog?
I posed this question to my sister, Melanie, who is usually pretty wise about it.
In this case, however, she was as perplexed as I was.
“You would never leave your baby in a hot car or you would be arrested,” she said. “When it comes to locking a dog in a hot car, he’s as helpless as a child.”
“Dogs can’t sweat,” she added. “If you were sitting in your car in the summer with the windows cracked, you would be soaked. You would immediately open a car door and let in some air. But your dog can’t do that. They sit there and suffer.
On a 75 degree day, the temperature inside a car can rise to 109 degrees in 30 minutes. At 110 degrees, a dog can experience heat stroke.
That said, most people who leave dogs in hot cars care about their pets. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t want their dog’s company while driving.
My friend’s mother was one of those people. Despite many warnings, she always brought her little dogs with her during the summer races. She’d be in and out in minutes, she argued.
Until she isn’t anymore.
One afternoon she met someone she knew and chatted for a while. When she returned to her car, one of her dogs was dead. The other succumbed the next day, despite emergency veterinary care.
To say she was devastated would be an understatement. But she was still better off than her dogs.
Tips for When You See a Dog Locked in a Hot Car
So what to do when you see a dog locked in a hot car? Well, I’ve been known to copy a car’s license plate, walk into the business where it’s parked, and request that the owner be notified.
In the worst case scenario – like the time I saw a Shih Tzu inside a black sedan at the mall on a sweltering day – I contacted the police.
“You know, some people might call you a crazy animal lover,” my friend Lydia has told me more than once.
My obvious answer: “Don’t worry. My bark is worse than my bite.
And even if it is not the case, I had my injections.