Rewind the clock to 5:30 p.m. eastern time. I arrive at my favorite grocery store, intent on purchasing a few snacks. I park, step out of my car and am instantly greeted by a happy face with a hanging tongue out the passenger window of a silver Acura MDX. Startled, I take a step closer to examine my new friend and find he is all alone in the car, windows cracked just enough for him to fit part of his mouth and dangle his tongue out the window. He looks to be one of those big, super hairy shepherd kinds. I am outraged.
Ordinarily, I would have picked up my phone then and there but as luck would have it, my phone was dead. I memorized the license plate and model of the car while I waited a few minutes by my new friend's side, hoping his owner would return soon. I felt appreciative it wasn't as hot as August days typically are in Atlanta, but I know that poor guy must have been hot seeing how that darling, not-so-little tongue was dangling. That's when I made the snap decision to dart into the store quickly, find someone who could call for help and return to my new friend.
When I got to the counter and explained the situation, the customer service rep gave me a sort of blank stare, like she could not believe I was making such a ridiculous suggestion. All I wanted was for someone to put in a call to animal control so that I could go back and keep an eye on my panting friend in the SUV. She pointed to a police officer and I thanked her, walked over and explained the situation to him. The officer said he was aware of the dog in the car, had someone in the lot watching over him and was giving the person a few minutes to get back before he took action. Feeling comforted, I went to grab a few things and sure enough, it was less than two minutes later, the officer found me and told me that they had watched the owner get back in the car and drive away.
Relief overcame me and I proceeded to the check out. Bag in hand, I walk out to my car when I started slowing, disbelief taking over. The vehicle parked next to mine was still there and I didn't have to get very close to see the fluffy face that had now moved into the trunk of the SUV staring back at me. I turned, darted back in the store and found the officer chatting on a cell phone. I interrupted him and told him the SUV I reported (dog included) was still there. He said, "Huh. There must have been two." He followed me out to the car, where he stood stupified for a good five minutes before he finally said he'd make an overhead announcement. I told him that I would stay with the dog until I knew the dog was really safe this time.
And so, there I sat. Waiting for his owner to come back. And come back, she eventually did. By my estimation, she must have heard that announcement and flew out of the store as if not to get caught because when she returned, she didn't appear to have a bag in hand and she practically jumped into her car. I started walking around the front of the SUV to talk to the woman when she looked at me and took off, speeding out of the parking lot, just like that. All in all, I would guess that poor guy had been there upwards of 30 minutes, for I was there for at least 20.
It is because of incidents like these that I would like to share PETA's tips of what to do when you see a pup left alone in a car, even with the windows cracked: 1) Take down the car's color, make, model and license plate; 2) Have the owner of the nearby buildings paged or call the local humane authorities or police; 3) Have someone keep an eye on the dog. Do not leave the scene until the situation is resolved. Truthfully, knowing now that the officer had identified a different dog and was misinformed that my new friend was safe and the situation handled, I feel guilty for feeling confident enough that the situation was being resolved. Lucky for my conscience and my new friend, it all turned out all right in the end but, as you know, such is not always the case.
Stay cool and stay safe out there, my furry friends!