A woman was charged with felony aggravated cruelty to animals earlier this month after leaving a dog locked in a hot car for eight hours in an Alabama Walmart parking lot. Bystanders and police tried to contact the woman over the store’s loudspeaker, but she never responded. Eventually officers broke the car’s windows and pulled the dog out, but even though onlookers provided the dog with shade and water, she still died. They were too late.
In response to the incident, PETA wrote a letter to the CEO of Walmart asking that the company place signs in their parking lots reminding customers of the dangers of leaving animals and children in hot cars while they shop. They point out that dogs and children have died in Walmart parking lots before. In fact, five dogs were left in a hot car in another Alabama Walmart in 2014 and all died from the heat. Several dogs die each year from being left in hot cars all across the country. PETA hopes that signs would help prevent more deaths from happening.
Walmart parking lots are huge, and many customers lose track of time while shopping, so it makes sense that PETA would petition the company, specifically, to advise customers of the danger. Would signs really help reduce incidents of people leaving their kids or dogs in hot cars? It’s possible, though in the case of the woman who left her dog in the car for eight hours while she ignored her name being blasted on a loudspeaker, I doubt she would have noticed or cared about such signs. Still, if these signs could save even one life, perhaps it would be a worthwhile thing to do.
Other efforts are underway to help remedy the situation, too. There is a petition on Change.org to make it illegal to leave dogs in hot cars in the state of Alabama where the incidents mentioned earlier took place. That petition has over 180,000 signatures. There are also groups working to create Good Samaritan laws in Alabama that protect those who would break into hot cars to save dogs.
All of these efforts may make it less likely for dogs to be left in hot cars, but in the meantime, we must continue to do our best to educate dog owners about the dangers. There is no reason to bring your dog with you if you are going to a place where they must wait in the car. They’d be much happier waiting at home where it is comfortable. If you must take them on a car ride, take them on a ride to a park or hiking trail where you can spend time outdoors together, or take them to an establishment where dogs are allowed to come inside. Even on cooler days, a car is like an oven and can reach dangerous temperatures very quickly. Don’t say you’re only going to leave them for a minute. You never know what might hold you up and put your dog in danger. Leave them at home. A joy ride isn’t worth their life.
Do you think Walmart should post signs in their lots about leaving dogs in hot cars? What else do you think we could do to reduce the number of dogs that are killed from being left in hot cars every year? Let us know in the comments below!