On Friday, June 8, 2018 at approximately 3:30pm, I was leaving a Charlottesville, VA park after having spent a few hours there. The temperature at that time was approximately 88 degrees, with 60% humidity, and practically no wind (3mph).
As I approached my vehicle, in the very full parking lot of about 200 spaces, I saw a yellow Lab standing in the back seat of a large black SUV that was parked next to me. I consider it a miracle that this happened right next to my vehicle, or else this dog might well have died a horrific death.
After overcoming my initial shock that anyone would leave a dog in a vehicle on such a hot day, in direct sunlight, I noted that (a) there was no water in the vehicle for the dog, and (b) its leash was tied to the driver-side passenger door arm rest.
I immediately retrieved the water bottle out of my backpack, which contained water at slightly lower than air temperature (I’d already consumed the jug of iced beverage I brought with me), and began pouring some into my hand, which the dog frantically lapped up.
I then called the police to report the situation, and answered the dispatcher’s questions as to the location of the vehicle, type of dog, etc. The dispatcher told me that they received another call about this dog about ten minutes earlier (est. 3:20pm), and that they’d get someone out as soon as possible.
I then approached the open window again, and the dog approached me. I reached out to pet it, and see how hot its fur was, but as you can see in the video below, before I could do that, the dog wrapped its mouth around my hand, and began to gently gnaw on it. I felt intense heat in its mouth. If I were to guess, the dog was trying to tell me how hot it was, and to please, please get it out of that vehicle:
You can also see that I swing my camera around to show the water bottle that I placed on the roof of my car, from which I had been serving the dog.
Within the first 8-10 minutes, the dog consumed about 3/4 of the water in that bottle, which contains 22 oz.
I stayed with the dog for approximately 20-22 minutes, until about 3:50pm, when an Albemarle County Animal Control Officer (AC-ACO) arrived. I gave the officer my impression of the situation, but ran into several unfortunate obstacles — the first of which was that she did not have a heat sensor, to determine the interior temperature of the vehicle, with her. I later learned that AC-ACO division has a shortage of these sensors, with which every ACO should be armed.
The ACO then began using her computer to identify the name of the vehicle’s owner.
There’s more to this story, that I won’t go into at this time.
Ultimately,the ACO took the dog out of the SUV, and put it into one of the air-conditioned crates in the back of her vehicle, and wrote out a note for the owner.
About ten minutes after the ACO arrived, I left — at about 4:00pm.
Per the facts as I’ve laid them out here, the dog had been left in that truck for a minimum of 40-45 minutes — but possibly much longer. After all, how long had the dog been in the vehicle before the first call placed to police, at about 3:20pm?
Given what we know of the science of how quickly the interior temperature of a vehicle rises, even with the windows partially down, and video dramatizations proving this, I estimate that the inside of that SUV rose to a minimum of 126 degrees, with the surface of the seats having risen far higher..