On Saturday, September 6, 2014 I was seated outside at HotCakes in Charlottesville, VA at 11:00am, when I began to hear the muffled sounds of two dogs barking. Because of the background traffic and conversation noise, it was difficult to detect the direction from which the sound was coming. About five minutes after it began, I got up and began to walk around the adjacent parking areas, to see if I could find them.
About five minutes later, I found them: turns out they were practically right in front of me, in a vehicle with the windows almost entirely closed – which is why their sound was so muffled, and their location difficult to detect.
As shown below, the official local weather resource shows that at the time, the outside temperature was 85 degrees and rising fast.
Although the dogs appear to be in okay shape at the moment I shot this, given the circumstances, the fact that they’d been in that truck for ten minutes (meaning the interior temperature had risen from 85 degrees to at least 104 degrees), and how quickly the outside temperature was rising, I decided to call the police.
Immediately after, I shot this video to document what I was witnessing. On the video, I estimated it was 80 degrees, because when I checked my phone, that was what it said – however, it had last been updated at 10:00am; the web resource I use (above) was accurate up to the minute; turns out it was actually 85 degrees.
A few minutes later, I began to shoot another video of the incident (not posted yet), when a young couple emerged from the pharmacy next door, laughing, having a great time, not a care in the world, and unlocked the doors to the truck. From their appearance, I assume they were students at nearby University of Virginia (or high school).
I approached the male and asked him to never leave his dogs in such a situation again. I explained that in the time he was gone, the interior temperature of the vehicle rose at least 19 degrees, meaning that it was now 104 degrees at a minimum – and left there much longer, these dogs would be in heatstroke. I said they basically were sitting there in an oven, with the temperature rising fast. At first he seemed surprised at my comments, but then seemed to be sincerely apologetic, and assured me he’d not do such a thing again.
After reflecting on this episode, I could not help but wonder: had the local SPCA been publishing accurate information about the danger of leaving a dog in a car (report here), would this young man have known to never put these dogs into this situation – before he did?