A dog in distress was a truly upsetting sight for two women who spotted the pup in a vehicle on the hottest day of the year.
New West resident Christine Rennie has just finished getting some dinner at a restaurant in Royal Square mall on Monday night when she noticed a small dog in a vehicle. She said the temperature was about 39 or 40 degrees Celsius at the time.
“The dog was quite distressed,” she said. “At first it was listless and then it was pawing at the window.”
Unsure of what to do, Rennie called the New Westminster Police Department’s non-emergency line, but it was busy because of the high call volumes during the heat wave. She tried calling 911, but was unable to get through to police that way either.
Rennie was soon joined by another woman, who had just finished working in the mall and was also deeply concerned about the dog’s wellbeing. While that woman stayed by the car and tried to get through to 911, Rennie attempted to find the dog’s owner.
“I was racing from store to store to try and find the owner but couldn’t find the owner,” she said.
Rennie was still going from store to store in the mall when the other woman found her and said the dog’s owner had returned to the car after going into a paint store.
“She was actually very emotional. She was crying,” she said of the woman. “She could see the dog getting hotter and hotter. She was pretty mad at the dog owner. She said, ‘You can’t do this.’ The dog owner just didn’t seem to realize why.”
Rennie said the dog was in the car for at least five minutes during the sweltering heat.
“The owner of this dog, she said, ‘Well, I put water on my dog,’” Rennie said. “The other lady said, ‘That’s just not good enough.’”
Rennie said she’s thankful the store closed at 7 p.m. or there’s no telling how much longer the dog would have been in the car, which was parked in partial sun/partial shade and had all of its windows rolled up.
“Definitely the dog looked distressed,” she said. “I think maybe she was in for just a quick errand, but she really didn’t seem to realize (the risk).”
Rennie said it’s not fair to put other people into the position of having to consider what action to take to ensure animals are safe on hot days.
“It’s horrible to be in that position, where you are like ‘this dog is going to die. Do I need to break a window?’” she said. “It’s not nice as a passerby to be in that situation.”
Rennie regrets not getting the vehicle’s licence plate number so she could pass it along to police, so they could follow up with the dog’s owner.
New Westminster Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Kumar said people should not leave their pets in vehicles during warm weather.
“Even minutes in a car, it could be lethal. It could be death,” he said.
Kumar said the NWPD’s non-emergency line and 911 have been experiencing delays because of the volume of calls related to this week’s extreme heat.
“Personally I wouldn’t have an issue breaking that window trying to get that dog out. I am not encouraging that by any means,” he said. “I can totally see that happening if it protects a pet’s life. That’s our job as well.”
The Record contacted the New Westminster Animal Shelter for comment about steps to be taken if pets are left in vehicles on hot days, but had not heard back by press time.