Monday, May 19, 2014



Today, I was saddened, angered, outraged to hear that the six dogs that were purportedly stolen from a Langley dogwalker's truck last week were not stolen at all,  but died of heat exhaustion when the dogwalker left them locked in her truck on a hot day.  

There is NO excuse for this.  This was NOT "merely an accident".  This was a person who makes her living taking care of dogs, and could not possibly have been ignorant of the fact that vehicles heat up quickly and dogs die quickly when the outside temperature is warm or hot.  

There is a message here for every dog owner, every dog sitter, every person who has ever looked after a dog for even a short while.  Don't leave the dog in a car on a hot - or even moderately warm - day.  Not while you run into the store for a few things, not while you go to the public washroom, not while you drop in on a friend 'for just a moment'.  Once spring arrives, and until winter returns, leave the dog at home!  You know what?  They'd rather be alive than go for a fatal car ride. 

Perhaps part of my outraged reaction is due to my own experience in 2010 when a professional dog caregiver, one who worked with dogs every day, killed my own dog Oliver through her absolutely unacceptable behaviour.  The circumstances were different, but the result the same - my dog died of salt water poisoning after the person entrusted with his care let my sight impaired, deaf, sixteen year old dog with canine cognitive disorder off leash on the beach and then turned her back.  I never thought to tell her what I thought was obvious - especially when the beach was not an off leash beach.  

And so there is a second message here:  know your petwalker or petsitter. Grill them, quiz them, check references, and grill them some more on their canine knowledge, their practices, their philosophy regarding dog care and safety.  And put in writing the things that are not acceptable to you - whether it is letting your dog off leash, taking them in the car without being crated or seatbelted, leaving them unattended in the back yard or in the car, opening the door without leashing the dog first, or whatever.   I learned the hard way not to take common sense for granted, not to assume someone who works with dogs would keep my dog safe. My dog paid with his life for that ignorance, as did the six Langley dogs.  

The dogwalker who killed those six dogs will never forget the lesson she learned when she chose to leave the dogs in the vehicle while she did who-knows-what.  I hope the petsitter who killed my Oliver will also never forget how she screwed up.  I know it changed my life:  my dogs' safety is now more important to me than any other aspect of their care.  They can miss a meal or two, miss a walk, miss my company - but when it comes to safety, there are no compromises because sometimes there are no second chances to get it right. 

My heart goes out to the families who lost their best friends.  I know only too well the deep, deep pain and sense of betrayal.  

I hope all my blog readers will keep their dogs safe this summer.  Leave them at home if you can't be with them every minute. Even when you can be with them, be aware of road temperature, beach temperature, dehydration, heat exhaustion,  water hazards.  Plan ahead to keep dogs safe in new surroundings while on vacation - dogs bolt and get lost when away from home.  Plan your strategy for safety in wilderness areas where bears might be encountered - angry bears can be right on Fido's tail as he runs right back to you. Carry a canine first aid kit.  Carry extra leashes, carry lots of water.  Get a canine life jacket if you boat.  Don't let your dog swallow too much seawater while playing his favourite game of swim-and-fetch.  Think safety, safety, safety. Please. 

(Used with permission of artist)


Black Jack's Carol said...

I well remember your heartbreak, Jean. That day is indelibly imprinted on my psyche. And, this story will be another. My heart fell when I saw your post on facebook. Thank you for doing all you can to save the lives of our beloved pets. I might add that heat exhaustion can happen far more quickly than anyone could imagine. People who run their dogs beside their bikes, or toss balls for them in the park, or even jog with their dogs, need to have water with them, and they need to be absolutely attentive to the first sign of distress. A colleague's husband (a doctor) who adopted a greyhound lost the dog to heat exhaustion during a run together. Again, I repeat, it can happen so very quickly! Thanks, Jean for this post.

Del said...

I also remember Oliver's story :'( I am also horrified and angered at the six lost dogs story. I don't have the words to express it.

Thanks so much for posting and re posting to LEAVE your dogs at home!
So sad, so very very sad!

Sheryl said...

So very, very sad!