Concern and Compassion

In a nutshell, this was my Tuesday evening:

Just called animal control. Dog in car with windows cracked in shopping center parking lot. It's not blazing hot outside but still too warm.
@melissachess
Melissa Coursey Hess
Shame on you, irresponsible dog owners. Makes me so angry.
@melissachess
Melissa Coursey Hess
Now I'm waiting for animal control while my own dog is at home hungry, but not in any immediate danger from the heat.
@melissachess
Melissa Coursey Hess

Here’s the longer version:

As I left the gym on Tuesday, I noticed a long-haired shepherd mix type dog in the back of a car with the windows cracked. Out of concern, I called the Alexandria Animal Welfare League around 5:45 PM and sat down to wait for them to show. The animal control officer, Shannon, arrived up around 6:15. Since the car was registered in the city of Alexandria, she was able to run the plates to get the owner’s name, but the phone number for the car owner was a home number. Shannon started checking the restuarants around 6:30 PM while I hung out by the car next to her van, which was blocking the car in the parking spot. The owners (a couple) showed up around 6:45 PM. They had been eating dinner in one of the restuarants in the same shopping center. I called Shannon to have her come back to the car. In the interim, the male half of the couple repeatedly yelled at me and told me to mind my own business. I calmly stated that I was concerned for the dog. He told me I needed to stop trying to save the world. The female half of the couple looked really embarrassed. She tried to tell me that theĀ car was in the shade and pointed to the setting sun. I quietly stated that it had only recently began to set and that their car was not parked under any trees. He continued yelling and I stood there giving him an “eat dirt” look until Shannon showed back up. I’m proud of myself for not yelling back at him, but I wanted to tell him exactly what I thought of him. When Shannon walked up, I walked away and she gave them a stern lecture. After she drove away, he yelled something at me as they left, but I couldn’t understand him.

Seventy minutes or so elapsed from when I made the call to when they left. There’s no telling how long the dog had been in the car prior to my leaving the gym. The dog ended up being okay, but seemed stressed and was panting heavily. There currently aren’t any laws against leaving dogs/animals in cars in the Commonwealth of Virginia, but Alexandria is working to pass a law such that it would be a class 1 or class 2 misdemeanor to leave an animalĀ in a car when it’s 80 degrees or more outside.

Lesson Learned:

I always like to think the best of people. What can I say? I’m an optimist. Incidents like this remind me how cruel we can be to creatures that depend on us for care and to each other. There was not excuse for him to yell at me like that. Maybe I shouldn’t have called animal control. Perhaps they shouldn’t have left their dog in the car. I did what I thought was best so that I could go to sleep that night. I believe that if everyone operated on that premise, that the world would be a kinder, more compassionate place.