Sunshine

After a long, wet slog of a winter (and a horrific windstorm which may or may not have been a mini tornado; accounts differ), summer has arrived. 

In early summer, I wake at 5 a.m. without an alarm, roused by sunlight and birdsong. Eventually, I’ll adjust and begin sleeping in until 7 or 8 am. For now, I’m waking an hour before my alarm, to a long stretch of warm, golden hours, and the air smells of honey and fresh cut grass.

Yesterday we were coming home from a doctor’s appointment when something kind of upsetting happened. We’d stopped for some medicine, and as we were getting back into our car to leave, noticed the Kia Soul (Eco/hybrid model) parked in the spot next to us with two small dogs inside– like, very small, chihuahua-size– and the windows were barely cracked, with  vehicle parked in full sun with temperatures in the upper 70s/ lower 80s. 

Over the roof of our car, my husband told me we should call animal control. 

Well, the owner was actually nearby– apparently they’d just parked and were within hearing range, and when they heard my husband say that, the guy got very angry and confrontational. I’ll just call him Tryinta Killadog, since I never got his actual name.

Mr. Killadog stormed back, yelling, “You don’t think my dogs are safe? Look at them! Look! The windows are cracked!”

They’re barely cracked– so infinitesimally, it’s hard to see the gap of air against the rubber track cushioning the window frame. Less than a fingers width. My husband points this out.

Mr. Killadog protests they were “barely” going to be in the store, and would be out in less than 5 min. Note: He was going into Costco– tell me the last Costco trip that took less than 15 min, max. Even a 15 minute trip is either  just browsing or a lucky fluke with no lines, which you can’t count on!

For reference, temperatures inside a car can increase by 20 degrees Fahrenheit in just 10 min; 30 degrees in 20 min, and so on. So while the outside temp may be a balmy 70 degrees (or 75, as it was yesterday morning), inside the car it can quickly reach temperatures in excess of 100. Dogs also have a higher body temperature than humans and a different thermoregulation biology, both of which put them at increased risk in hot vehicles.

Mr. Killadog storms up to his car and jabs an angry finger at the Eco/Electric insignia, almost frothing at the mouth as he screams, “It’s electric, you morons! The air conditioner is on! They’re fine!”

The a/c was not on, btw. First, and most obviously, even an electric motor makes noise– it’s not the distinctive growl of a carburated motor, but anyone who’s ever used any sort of electric motor or cooling unit (think computers, gaming consoles, pool pumps, etc) knows they aren’t absolutely silent. Quieter than carbureted engines, sure. Absolutely silent, to the point you can’t tell if they’re on or not? No.

Second, if it was on, why was that Mr. Killadog’s third response/ defense? First he pointed to gapped windows, then the brief time he claimed they would shop, and then he flailed to the a/c defense.

Third, what kind of idiot runs their a/c with the windows cracked? If the a/c was on, why crack the windows at all?

Anyway, so Mr. Killadog’s companion (apparently waiting at the store entrance) appeared at this point to take the membership card from him, then left. Mr. Killadog invited us to go ahead and call the police, saying he’d wait with us, and got into his car. He rolled down the window and turned on the a/c (we heard the hum of the electric motor and the a/c compassion pump kicking on). 

Well, there’s not much to call the cops about at that point, other than the concern that as soon as we leave this asshole will lock his dogs right back up in that hot oven of a car. And since Mr. Killadog clearly thinks treating his dogs like this is harmless, and is loudly mocking us while filming us from his vehicle, we go ahead and make that call.

The police promise to send someone out, but also advise us to leave the immediate situation and not engage with the confrontational, angry man, which makes sense to me. So we drove away, with Mr. Killadog yelling, “Oh, oh, where you going? Huh? I thought we were waiting for the police? Huh? Where you running off to, huh?”

But instead of actually leaving, my husband circled around the building returned to parked a few rows behind the car. That was at 11:48 a.m. The initial confrontation began approximately 9 minutes prior.

Mr. Killadog stayed in the car, windows now up, for a few more minutes. Then he exited the vehicle and began pacing around it. He leaned against the driver’s side window, back to us, apparently scanning the parking lot. 

At 12:04, he straightened up, apparently spotting someone, and left the vehicle to meet his companion. 

In other words, as angry as Mr. Killadog was about our “invasive” and “unnecessary” intervention, it probably saved his dogs’ from heatstroke (at minimum). 

The shopping trip–even (presumably) curtailed due to our influence, still lasted 16 minutes if you’re counting by the timeline most forgiving to Mr. Killadog; the one which begins some 10 min after he initially locked the dogs in the car and walked away. 

If you start from when we first noticed the dogs, at 11:39, that’s a 26 minute shopping trip– nearly half an hour the dogs would have been in a sealed car when it was 75 degrees outside.

The only reason the dogs had a/c and fully cracked windows during that time was because we spoke up, and their owner (angrily, defensively, mockingly) complied with our objections to prove he had his dogs best interests in mind.

It was uncomfortable and upsetting. I dislike interfering in other people’s affairs, being yelled at, and being filmed/ photographed without my consent. Everything about the interaction was extremely uncomfortable and anxiety inducing for me. 

But it was also the right thing thing to do. We had no way of knowing how long the dogs had been and would be in the car, and even after the owner returned, his belligerent aspect and manner implied he did not believe there was any risk to the dogs’ health.

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