Every day, human beings are faced with the choice of being kind or being "right." Too often we choose to be "right."
That was the recent decision of one local man who, on a sweltering day, had left his small dog locked in his car with the windows barely cracked. His response to a concerned parking-lot passerby was that she should mind her own business a sentiment he punctuated with a hand gesture known in some circles as a "half a peace sign."
In other words, he chose to be "right" and rude rather than kind.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, pet owners should never leave their animals unattended in parked cars for any period of time. On a warm, sunny day, the temperature in a parked car can reach dangerous levels in minutes, even with the car window partially open.
"A pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke when trapped in these high temperatures," said Martha C. Armstrong, vice president for companion animals and equine protection at The Humane Society of the United States. "Pets aren't able to dispel heat as well as humans. Depending on how thick the animal's fur is, it can be like a human sitting in a hot car with a winter coat on."
In the vast majority of deaths, pet owners probably think they are taking the necessary precautions, such as parking in a shady area and cracking the window so the animal will have fresh air.
"These people are taking their pets with them in the car because they love them and enjoy their companionship," Armstrong said. "People are devastated when they return to their cars and find their pets in extreme stress or, even worse, dead.
"Like young children, animals don't always have the wherewithal to recognize and get themselves out of this dangerous situation," she said. "It is the primary responsibility of pet owners to keep their animals safe by never leaving them in a parked car under any circumstances."