Saturday, July 23, 2011

Everbody Knows

from this morning's Herald
Charges may come after dog pulled from hot car
By LAURA FRASER Staff Reporter
Sat, Jul 23 - 4:55 AM
The Nova Scotia SPCA could lay animal cruelty charges against a man who left his dog in a car Friday as the temperature inside climbed to more than 50 degrees.
Halifax Regional Police got a call shortly before 3 p.m. when someone saw the dog inside a green Toyota Echo at the east side of Mic Mac Mall in Dartmouth. The vehicle’s windows were partly open.
Officers took the American Staffordshire terrier from the car, because it looked to be in distress, a police report said. Its owner returned at 4:08 p.m. carrying three shopping bags.
The chief inspector for the provincial SPCA said the pet may have been inside the car for more than an hour, but Neil Fraser said he had to confirm that with the animal’s owner. Fraser registered readings between 41 and 57 degrees in the car just after the dog was taken out.
"It doesn’t take very long for damage to happen," Fraser said. "It can cause organ failure, the body goes into shock. The heat just basically begins to bake the animal."
After police took the dog from the car, it lay on a patch of shaded sidewalk for more than half an hour and drank more than a litre of water. The pet seemed sluggish at first and had to be picked up to get in the car that would take it to a vet.
On the air-conditioned drive, Fraser said the dog began to perk up. The Nova Scotia SPCA planned to hold the animal for observation over the weekend after the vet’s examination.
Fraser said he would also speak with the dog’s owner and make the decision about whether to return the pet and whether to lay charges of causing distress to an animal.
If convicted, a first offender could face a maximum fine of $10,000, although Fraser said that severe a sentence would be extremely unlikely. The judge would probably hand down a smaller fine and consider banning an owner from keeping animals for some time, the inspector said.
A woman outside Mic Mac Mall said the owner should face consequences.
"It’s no different than leaving a child in the car," Jennifer McGowan said. She said she feels "sympathy for the dog and anger for the owner. Owners like that shouldn’t have animals."
The provincial SPCA has received about 30 reports this summer of animals being left in parked cars.
With files from Dan Arsenault, crime reporter
Why do we keep seeing these stories every year?  Do people not understand that leaving dogs in hot cars puts them at such risk?  That it is animal cruelty?
Of course they do!  In the same way that folks always understood that driving home after an evening at the tavern wasn't a good idea.  That there was something wrong when the wife kept falling down the stairs!   That getting pregnant wasn't grounds for dismissal!
Understanding has never been an effective deterrent on its own!  Why did people start thinking twice about driving under the influence?  Did all that public education start to sink in?  Did they suddenly evolve into better / wiser / more responsible folks? 
Of course not!  I know I go on and on like a stuck record on the subject ... but at the end of the day the single solution to stopping socially unacceptable behaviors of any sort is with legislation.
If we already had a law banning dogs being left unattended in cars, then the society's Chief Inspector wouldn't need to try to confirm time lines with the dog's owner.  There would be no use of the phrase 'charges may be laid' in the headlines.
It would be cut and dried ... dog left in car unattended automatically equals a specific fine. 
Here in Kings County, there are fines for not licensing our dogs.   For letting them go on walkabout.   For not picking up their poop.  
Everybody 'knows' leaving dogs unattended in cars on a hot day is just wrong. Ahh ..  but does everybody know that the car can still be an oven even with the windows cracked open?   Parked in the shade even?
Does everybody know for sure that they will only be two minutes?  That there won't be a lineup?   That they won't bump into friends along the way?
Does everybody know that they won't get distracted?  That it is easy to lose track of time doing something they enjoy?  Especially in an air conditioned store ?
Common sense is actually a rare thing, eh?  At the end of the day, legislation is the only sure way to make sure that 'everybody knows'.
The other day on Facebook, this photo was being passed around.  Everyone thought it was a great idea!  Just imagine what would happen if each and everyone who thought it was a good idea took the time to email their MLA and their municipal councillors on the subject?
What time is it?   It is time for each and everyone of us to stop complaining to each other and contact the politicians that we elected.  At the end of the day .... strong voter feedback is the only way to ensure that 'everybody knows'
Everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows
Leonard Cohen

1 comment:


Besides the fact that common sense is not common anymore - I am furious that the NS SPCA is quoted as saying 'they may' press charges. This should be a definite - no and, ifs or buts about it. This reckless dog owner should be charged PERIOD. It is the SPCA's JOB to do so - if not they are failing their mandate to be the voice for the animals.