I was considering never writing about this experience, because I am ashamed of it, but I figure maybe readers can learn something from my mistake.
2 summers ago.Â Or maybe it was last summer.Â Who knows.Â Â It was a gorgeous, hot weekend and I was up at Burden Lake with my dog Niko.
Around 7pm, I had to leave the lake to go to my friends Sarah and Peteâ€™s double birthday party, and I needed to get them a gift.
I decided to go to buy them classic Ray Ban aviator sunglasses from the sunglass store down the hall from Pottery Barn. Â When in doubt for a gift for someone, buy them a pair of classic aviator glasses. Â They look good on absolutely everyone.
I drove into the parking lot, parked by Pottery Barn, rolled the windows down and opened the sun roof, and left Niko in the car.Â Â Iâ€™m sure you can guess where this was headed.
I didnâ€™t have any water for Niko, and it honestly never even crossed my mind that running into the store for 5-10 minutes would be harmful to my dog.Â Â The windows were down, and he was still wet from the Lake.
I run in.Â Buy the sunglasses.Â Come out to my car, and Mall Police are surrounding my car with the lights on.Â Â I was like, â€œOh shit.Â Someone who parked next to me must have just robbed the surprisingly-still-open Travel Agency next to Pottery Barn.â€
But I soon realize they are surrounding my car.
I go up to the young man (25ish), and say, â€œummm, whatâ€™s going on?â€
â€œIs this your dog?â€
â€œYes.Â Whatâ€™s wrong?â€
â€œWhatâ€™s wrong is that you have your dog in 75 degrees weather in a black car!Â Â Are you crazy?Â You could have killed him.â€
â€œOh wow.Â Iâ€™m really sorry.Â I only ran into the store for a few minutes.Â I didnâ€™t think it would be a problem.â€
“Didn’t think it would be a problem?? Â How would you feel if I put you in a Â black sweater and kept you in the car on a hot summer day.”
I immediately felt hot.
The â€œOfficerâ€ was giving Niko a cup of water, and I say, â€œwell thank you officer.Â Iâ€™ll put on the air conditioning now. Â Thank you and again, I’m sorry.â€
And the officer said, â€œYou arenâ€™t going anywhere.Â Animal Control is on their way.â€
â€œWhat do you mean?â€
â€œI mean, Animal Control is coming to take the dog.Â We just called them. And if it’s determined the the dog has been hurt in any way, you’ll be arrested”.
â€œWhat?!?â€ Â The headline “Local Businessman and Friday Puppy dog-blogger Arrested for Animal Cruelty” flashes in front of my eyes.
And then I start to think,Â my dog really should get out of the car at this point, or at least turn the air conditioning on.
So I was like, â€œSir, you have let me turn on the A/C if youâ€™re going to keep the dog in the car.Â Or at least let my dog out of the car!â€
And he said, â€œYou canâ€™t touch him.Â We have to wait for Animal Control to show up so he can record the temperature of the dog in the car.â€
I was like, â€œdoes this guy care about the actual safety of my dog at all?Â Or this all just a formality.â€
I said, “Sir. Â That’s insane. Â I’m letting my dog out of the car” Â and I open the door and Niko jumps out.
The Officer doesn’t stop me, and we wait for Animal Control to show up.
Animal Control shows up, takes a thermometer reading of the car, and decides that the temperature of the car is too hot for the dog.Â Â And he takes my dog and walks him toward the back of his van so that they can bring Niko to a local veterinary hospital to be treated for â€œheat stroke.â€
He takes Niko by the leash, and Niko happily wags his tail and walks with the Animal Control guy to his van. Â Niko thinks heâ€™s going for a joyride somewhere.
I follow the van to the Veterinary Hospital in Latham on Rte 7 and the Animal Patrol man walks Niko into the vet, and announces very loudly to the lady behind the counter (and everyone else who is the waiting room), that â€œthis dog was left in a car in 80 degrees weather and needs to be checked for heat stroke.â€
Everyone looks at me like I am the worst person ever to be born in the history of the world.
The veterinarian takes the dog into a back room, and I follow them.
She takes Nikoâ€™s temperature and decides everything is fine.Â Â She talks to me about the dangers of leaving dogs in the car, and I am grateful that it happened because I didnâ€™t realize that a dog can suffer heat stroke in a hot car in a matter of minutes.
As a result, I never bring Niko (or Frank) with me in the car anytime I know I am going to have to run an errand.Â Â If something happens where they are with me and I HAVE TO make a stop, I leave the A/C running and just assume the car will be stolen and the thief now owns a leased car, and 2 labs who will chew all of his stuff.
I regret my choice that day, however I feel that I have learned a valuable lesson.