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animal rights

Dogs in cars

Regarding a dog that was locked in the back end of a vehicle for 8 hours and the police took no action.
Hello...my name is Michael S. and I live in Salem, Oregon. I found your site by searching for Animal Rights Organizations and/or Activists in hopes of finding someone to give me some advice about something that recently happened. On Monday, Sept 24, I kept hearing a dog bark and howl. At first I thought it was a dog that lives in the area. After about an hour I decided to do some looking. It took me some time to realize that this dog was locked in the back of a Subura Legacy in the parking lot beside my building under my apartment. The dog was a type of bird dog. I'm not all that familiar with breeds. This dog was in the very back section of this car. In an approximate space of 2' x 4'. The dog had been howling since about 9 am. I first phoned Marion County Animal control to tell them about this problem. They told me that there wasn't anything they could do that I should call my local police department. I did. By this time this poor dog had been in this car, in the direct sunlight for an hour and a half. It took an officer about 20 minutes to respond. At which time I had taken my own dog for her walk. When I got back and told the officer that I was the one that reported the problem, the officer looked at me, waved a hand and said, "the dog is just fine". I was immediately angered by the response. I told the officer that this dog was not fine. The dog has been howling for going on 2 hours now and that this is neglect and abuse on part of the owner. I was so upset at the lack of concern by this officer that I phoned the Mayor's office. I was then transferred over to the Watch Commander and when he finally called me back, he told me that the officer determined that the dog was not in distress. This after speaking with Animal Control. I told that officer that how is it that a dog that is howling and barking for hours is not under distress? This was causing me and my own dog our own distress having to listen to this. The officer on scene had been trying to locate the owner. Come to find out that the owner is an employee of the State of Oregon. She finally showed up at noon. I'm not sure how the conversation went with the officer, but the woman took the dog for a walk and then stuck the dog back in the car. I was told by the Watch Commander that the woman told the officer that she would either take the dog home or at least move her car to a shady location. That NEVER happened. The dog continued to howl. I emailed the Mayor since I wasn't able to even leave a message for her. I also contacted the Governor's Office being that I know the Governor is a dog owner and hoped that he wouldn't take too kindly to one of his employees locking a dog in a car for hours on end. I made a point to the Mayor and the Chief of Police in Salem when I got an email from him that had this been a child, the officer would have busted out the windows, and the owner of the car would have been arrested. However, this woman was never cited for anything. And allowed to walk away. I spoke with the Humane Society in Salem and got a call yesterday from someone in their cruelty department. I was told that at the very least this woman should have been fined for public nuisance since this dog was howling. The officer on scene sat in his car and watched as the dog howled. I watched him from my apartment window. I've been assured by the Mayor that if something like this happens again she would take action herself. The Chief of Police, of course, sided with his own officer and said that there was nothing they could have done. For 5 of the 8 hours this dog was in the direct sunlight. Locked in the back of a car where it had little room to move around. Marion County Animal control refused to intervene because they didn't feel this animal was in distress. Yes, the dog did have water. But after how long does that water stay cool in a car that is in direct sunlight? Am I the only one who feels this is wrong? I love animals. I don't feel it was appropriate for this woman to keep her dog locked in her vehicle the entire time she was at work. Does anyone out there have any advice for me? Can anyone suggest any further actions I can take? Am I being too passionate or over reacting? In my opinion, I don't think I am. I hope someone can talk to me about this. You can reach me at mikeyd92164@hotmail.com I honestly feel the Police Department didn't do enough.

address: address: 1165 Chemeketa St NE, #301 Salem OR 97301

quandry 28.Sep.2007 15:27


It seems that you did everything you could to help this dog. I was glad to hear that it did have water, but if I remember correctly, the 24th was a warm sunny day, and any creature locked in a car for eight hours would have been stressed. We also have a dog...a rather spoiled little dog who hates to be left at home. We take him with us almost everywhere and sometimes get caught in a situation where we have to leave him in the car under less than perfect circumstances. It takes planning and teamwork to manage the situation on warm days. I am sure that the woman loves her dog and did her best, but there has to be a way to find safe quarters for the dog when she is working. Wouldn't it be nice if a few provisions were made for dogs? I love the restaurants in Portland that allow dogs...Tin Shed is one. Some shops are now allowing dogs inside as well, especially during the warmer months. We would love to see cars equipped with fans and ways to get fresh air to dogs who must be left for short times. Of course the trouble with that is that children might be left in cars as well. It is a big problem. I am rambling here...but this has been something we have struggled with as well.

thanks for keeping an eye out, but... 28.Sep.2007 21:29

looking at it another way

While I understand that you love animals and the sight of the dog confined in the car really got to you, if the dog had water, was checked on and walked, and was not in heat distress, well, I don't know what the problem is. I know there are many many pet owners who crate their dogs during the day when they are away, for whatever reason they have, and I'm sure a few of those dogs bark and howl all day while their peeps are at work. The crates are no bigger space wise than the back of a car. Maybe the woman wanted to stay in good graces with her neighbors, and felt taking her hound to work and leaving him to bark in the car was a better option than crating her dog at home. And some dogs are more vocal than others, barking when left alone or being destructive. I agree that there are better ways to deal with this, but not everyone who loves and owns a dog can afford a bourgeois membership to the dog daycare or work from home to keep their pooch company. Maybe you should think about that.

Care for the Animals 29.Sep.2007 07:39

have a heart

Wow. I completely disagree with these comments. Animal cruelty laws are insanely lax, and getting anyone to enforce them except under the most egregious circumstances is near impossible. Many bad situations are simply deemed "not bad enough."

A dog howling for hours is unhappy.

Would you let your 2-year-old cry for hours with no one to respond?

I figure if you wouldn't do it to a kid, you shouldn't do it to an animal.

I know many people leave their dogs crated--but many people are also insensitive. That many people do it, doesn't make it right.

Although, I'm not entirely against crating dogs--it depends on the individual dog and how he responds to the situation.

Really, anyone who has a dog should have a fenced yard. People shouldn't get animals if they can't provide WELL for them.

* 29.Sep.2007 10:23


A car can get dangerously hot, quickly, and is thus not the same as a crate at home. Sometimes a dog will show his or her discomfort or pain by howling.

On a day when it is in the low to mid 80 degrees F, a car interior temperature can climb to over 100 in 10 minutes. In 30 minutes, the car temperature can reach 120 F. And it doesn't matter if the windows are not rolled to the top.

A dog's body temperature is normally between 100.5F and 102F. Dogs regulate their body temperature by panting, expelling heat out, causing an evaporatory reaction. If he can not expel the heat fast enough, his body temperature rises. A rise of 3 to a temperature of 105F is all it takes to send your dog into a dangerous situation. At this temperature, the dog can no longer cope with reducing his body heat and the oxygen demand goes up to where the dog can not keep up, and his temperature continues to rise.

When the temperature hits 108F, the heart, brain, liver, kidneys, and intestinal tracts start to begin breaking down at a cellular level, and the damage can progress at an alarming rate. Even immediate treatment and effective cooling to bring his temperature down can leave the dog with internal damage that may affect his health in long term ways.


If you endanger your dog, you should not have one - and be prepared for authorities to get involved, or people who may rescue your dog from you and your car if authorities choose to not get involved.

hmmm 29.Sep.2007 11:38

Animal Lover

I absolutely love animals, and I have personally attacked at least 2 people before for leaving their dogs in hot cars. A dog can die of heat stroke in a car left in the summer sun. But... on the day that you referred to, it wasn't all that hot. Which is probably why the "authorities" did not respond. Usually, they come right out if the day is hot enough to put the animal at risk. To be honest with you, unless it's hot outside, a dog left in a car is no worse than a dog left in a crate, which is where a lot of people leave their dogs while they are at work. If it had water and was not too hot, there is no reason to berate the person over this. Seriously.

Dogs are burrowing animals who would, given a choice, spend a lot of their day in little underground burrows just big enough to turn around in. Ask the humane society.

If the dog was howling all day, um, maybe that's why it was in the car? Because maybe it's human had been warned by irritated neighbors that if it didn't stop howling at them all day, they would call the cops? Just a guess. Some dogs do that when they are not around their human. They get lonely or have separation anxiety.

I guess I'm really happy there are people like you out there who care enough to check on the health and well being of animals. And I am especially happy that more people are finally beginning to understand that you can't leave a dog in a car in the hot sun. But... if it's not hot or sunny, I just don't think there was any problem here.

Animal Lover, in the wild dogs 29.Sep.2007 12:40


might like to be in a cave some of the time, but they would NOT be alone (they're pack animals), and they would have free access to run around, go potty, go looking for food, chase butterflies, whatever. There was nothing natural about this situation of being cooped up in a car all day...

It's easy 30.Sep.2007 00:31


The solution to this problem is simle. Duct tape and a hammer. Completely tape the window, break with hammer, and remove the whole thing as one. Then, remove the doggie and find a nice home.
If you know the cops are making a bad decision here, then why would you sit idly by making phone calls that are getting the dog no closer to freedom? Why do you have to wait for the cops to set him free when you are perfectly capable yourself?

Contact a vet 30.Sep.2007 06:58

Pet lover and owner

I like It's Easy's answer and would do that if no one was around and I didn't get arrested but next time call a vet. Ask them to come out and check on the dog - tell them the situation and your concerns. Usually vets are very interested in this kind of stuff. Hopefully you will never run across this type of situation again.

As an aside, I know a woman who takes people's pets when they leave them wandering around in the neighborhood and then finds them new owners. Basically, as we all too often see, owners let their pets wander from their homes. This woman will bring them back to their homes and tell the owner to keep their pet at their home and not wandering the street. She will do this a number of times, she told me she gives them five chances to keep their pet at home, and then if she sees the pet the sixth time she brings it to her home and starts making phone calls. Almost every time she has found the pet a new home in another part of town. At first I was shocked about this but then realized she had a point. She told me that the most surprising and sad thing is that very few of the original pet owners look for their pets once they disappear. She lives in a rental community and her landlord knows that she does this. He doesn't give her any grief when she has an overabundance of pets in her apartment because she keeps them off the streets and locates new homes. It's an amazing world that we live in...

I find this disturbing 30.Sep.2007 09:23

not a nosy neighbor

You know, if an animal is being abused or neglected (for REAL), then I am all for rescuing it. Seriously. I've done it myself. No one should be allowed to abuse another living being.

It's definitely abusive to leave an animal in a car on a hot day, when it could get heat stroke.

But since it wasn't a hot day, I find all this self righteousness to be disturbing, to say the least.

How many of you have dogs who live in packs???

I have a dog, whom I love. When I adopted her from the humane society, they told me to "crate train" her. Do you know what that means? It means leaving the dog in a little crate, smaller than a car, while you are away. The HUMANE SOCIETY says that's all right to do. Now, I don't like to leave her all day without her being able to get out and go potty and walk around. But I also need to work for a living, to pay for a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. And they don't let me have a dog in my office. So when the weather is cool enough, I take her with me to work, and she stays in the car with a bowl of food and a bowl of water. And on my breaks, I come out and take her for walks.

And you know what? THE HUMANE SOCIETY says that's cool. So what is your fucking problem? Why are you all being so self righteous? If it was a hot day, again, this would be a different conversation. But just implying that it's somehow cruel to have a dog in a car on a day that's not hot... this is ridiculous. And you know what I would do if I came out and found some self righteous busy body duct taping my window and getting ready to kidnap my beloved dog when I was at work? I would take the hammer out of your hands and fucking BASH you with it. Why don't you go look for real problems in the world? You sound like the neighborhood committee or something. Like one of those fascist little homeowners' associations. You have deemed something to be wrong in your own little circle, and so you're going to go punish offenders. Fuck that. Why not leave others alone and let them make their own decisions, so long as they are not hurting anyone? This person was not hurting her dog. If the temperature is cool, it's none of your business if there is a dog in the car.

Dogs, Cars, and Windows 30.Sep.2007 14:11

My Dog Lucky

When I have my dog in the car I crack all the windows in the car. My dog likes to go for rides with me and when I go into stores I crack ALL the windows, not enough for someone to reach in but enough for air to circulate through the car. I always carry water and a bowl for her since we do these car rides frequently but cracking the windows is a must. Were the windows cracked at all? If not, and if people don't do it, then it's cruelty, plain and simple, no matter if you call yourself a dog lover or not.

Dogs in cities = Cruelty 01.Oct.2007 08:44

Real Animal Lover

Almost every single dog I meet in the city is neurotic and unhappy. Dogs need: 1) space, 2) excercise, and 3) companionship. Most dogs in Portland don't have enough space, can't run around like they want, and are abandoned by their "owners" for hours and hours each day. I am convinced that most people get dogs for Ego Reasons. They like having an animal around that is so focused on them. These people have not discovered their own healthy love-for-self, so depend on the dog to give it to them. And the dogs live cramped lonely lives. The picture of the dog bounding up and down, panting, so happy-to-see the person when they come home, is a picture of an animal suffering abuse. People are fucking selfish. If you were REALLY an animal lover, you wouldn't have a dog in the city, period.

Dogs are domestic animals. sheesh. 03.Oct.2007 19:49


I understand that your heart is in the right place re: dogs not bing urban creatures, but then neither are a lot of people.And while a dog, like a person needs exerise, s/he also needs socialising and dog parks are a great place for both of thos things to happen. And much more important to any dog than having his own big yard to romp in is having his or her own people to romp with. The relationship between dog and man is one of the more uniqely symbiotic around.Both species have benefitted greatly from our asssociation w/ the other.The occasional A-hole like Michael Vick notwithstanding. May it continue so for a long, long time.