In July 2018 Golden, Colorado, resident Tina stumbled across a distressed doggie trapped in a hot car. Concerned, she immediately called the authorities. And when a cop later arrived on the scene, the officer went searching for the animal’s irresponsible owner. When she finally caught up with him, however, he just didn’t want to listen.
Golden lies at the foot of Front Range in the Rocky Mountains. And thanks to the hills that surround it, the city sits within a sheltered valley. It also benefits, according to Weather Spark, from chilly but dry winter months and nice, warm summers.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, July tends to be the hottest month of each year for the near 19,000 residents of Golden. In July 2018, for instance, AccuWeather reported that one July day in Golden reached a sizzling 96.8 °F. So it’s fair to say that Golden enjoyed yet another glorious summer.
On one particular Saturday that month, resident Tina was out walking her dog, presumably taking advantage of the balmy weather. Her day took a concerning turn, however, when she noticed an animal in dire need of attention.
The creature in question was a large dog, and it was trapped inside a scorching hot vehicle. To make matters worse, the panting pooch appeared to be in distress. It kept approaching a barely opened window and barking through the crack.
Luckily, Tina had heard the animal’s desperate calls for help and had come to its aid. Recalling what she found inside the blistering car, in July 2018 she told KDVR, “It was going back and forth across the front seat, running back and forth and panting.”
Tina added, “My first thought was, ‘Not again.’” She was presumably referring to the estimated thousands of dogs that die in hot cars each and every year. Most of them sadly succumb to suffocation and heat stroke.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, on hot days temperatures inside vehicles can soar to 112 °F in less than half an hour. And that’s with the windows slightly opened.
With that in mind, back in Golden, Tina was having a hard time processing what she was seeing. “It breaks my heart because it’s distressful,” she later explained. “Even if we’re in the car for a short amount of time with the windows up, it’s distressful.”
As a responsible dog owner, then, Tina knew that she had to do something to assist the poor trapped pooch. So she called the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, and before long Deputy Kelly Fosler arrived on the scene to help.
And when she got there, Fosler was obviously concerned by what she could see. “When [dogs are] trapped in a car like that, they can’t sweat it out. They don’t have anything to cool them down,” she explained to KDVR. So she decided to intervene.
Fortunately, the owner of the vehicle had left it unlocked. As a result, Fosler was able to retrieve the dog and move it into the shade. But as the canine cooled down, the deputy hung around, eager to explain to its owner the dangers of leaving animals in hot cars.
When the man in question returned to his vehicle, however, he seemed to have little interest in his pet’s welfare. In a video filmed at the scene, he tells Fosler, “I don’t care. You guys have nothing else to do other than harass people like me and my dog.”
As an animal lover herself and a canine officer, Fosler couldn’t quite believe the man’s reaction to his misdemeanor. “I was shocked and angered at the same time and also sad,” she admitted. But luckily, she had the law on her side.
After all, Colorado is one of 28 states in which it is illegal to leave dogs alone in hot vehicles. Colorado is also among 11 states where citizens have a legal right to free distressed animals by any means. This includes breaking into a car.
So because Fosler had discovered the distressed dog in this car, animal control officers were subsequently contacted. They then gave the owner an official warning. They also advised him that if he did the same thing again, he would be cited for cruelty against animals.
According to Fosler, temperatures inside the man’s car were a sticky 95 °F. However, later that day the weather got even warmer, hitting the high 90s. With that in mind, the temperature inside the vehicle could have quite easily risen to more than 100 °F.
Tina said the dog she’d helped rescue had been left in the car for a minimum of 20 minutes. And while that doesn’t sound like a long time, even running a quick errand could be deadly for your dog. Fosler even said it was best to leave pets at home during the summer months.
If you ever do come across a dog in a hot car, the first thing you should do is attempt to find its owner. If your search fails, you should then call the authorities. Be advised that breaking into a vehicle yourself may land you in legal trouble; it’s best to leave that to the cops.
So while some dogs may love riding shotgun with the wind blowing through their fur, it’s advisable to limit their car journeys in the summer. After all, you never know when you might need to stop. And as we’ve discovered, a hot vehicle is no place for man’s best friend.