On Friday I made a quick trip to our local grocery store to pick up items for the weekend. I jumped out of my car ready to scurry into the cool respite of the store. It was after 10:00 a.m. and already the air steamed with bright sun, heat, and humidity. The first thing I noticed was a car parked near mine. Inside was a young Golden Retriever, panting heavily. The two front windows were cracked open a couple of inches each.
I walked around the car and talked to the dog, waiting for the owner to appear. After about 10 minutes, one of the young baggers came out to collect carts. I pointed out the dog and suggested the car owner be paged. She went inside to speak with her manager. Within a minute or two, she returned to say that this type of thing happened all the time, and her manager said there wasn't anything they could do about it.
My next thought was to call the police. Sweat tricked down my back like a broken faucet. I was burning up and it wasn't me locked in a hot car. So I pulled out my phone to make the call when a man who appeared to be in his fifties walked toward the car. Both hands were loaded with grocery bags. I called out to him and our conversation went something like this...
"It's really dangerous to leave your dog in a hot car."
"I had the windows cracked and the sun roof partly open." (Indignant)
"It's not enough to keep from killing your dog in this heat."
"I know my dog and he's fine." (Annoyed)
With that remark, he jumped into the car and sped away. In frustration, I couldn't help but shout after him.
"Next time I'll call the police!" I think I even shook my fist at him in some sort of power-to-the-people type gesture.
I'm not sure if he heard my somewhat childish parting shot or not. Not one of my finer moments. I went inside the store and cooled off...in more ways than one. Then I realized something. Never once did the man make eye contact with me. The way I read human nature, that's a sure sign when someone knows they made a mistake.
Although our interaction didn't end well, I decided this seed of discussion would bear fruit later on. I'm sure the man cared about his dog and probably thought he'd be inside the store "just for a second". He intended no harm. But unfortunately, even a few minutes in a hot car can be deadly.
The bagger's description about this type of thing "happening all the time" is really sad. Are we doing a bad job educating the public or do some simply choose to ignore facts? Perhaps getting out the message to one person at a time is the most effective way to make things change. I'm not a huge fan of confrontation, but uncomfortable as it feels, speaking up appears to be the best approach. In any event, I'm pretty sure that man in the parking lot will never leave his dog in a hot car again.
After all, who wants to tangle with a cranky red-faced sweat-ball of a crazy old lady?