5 good reasons to lay off the dog-in-car vigilantism

Whatever you think of leaving a dog in a hot car, actions have consequences. When did it become OK to start smashing windows?

Here we go again. Another dog in a hot car, another round of unchecked moral aggression. According to police reports, officers responded to the East Ave Wegmans, where a woman was upset because there was a dog in a car on a 90-degree day, all alone. By the time it was all over, she had smashed a shoe into one window hard enough to break it.

News 10 says they’ve learned the dog was in the car for less than a half hour, though they don’t cite their source. (Ed. note: @rachbarnhart points out that the police report said less than a half hour.) not Police report that the dog appeared unharmed, however, a suspiciously large number of people seem to have known someone who was there at the time, and insist that the dog had been in the car for more than 45 minutes.

To be clear, if you’re leaving your dog in the car on a day like those we’ve had this past week – even with the windows down a crack – you’re an ass. Things happen and life gets complicated from time to time, but whether you meant it to turn out that way or not, leaving a dog in the car is cruel, unthinking and irresponsible. Forget that the dog might die: your dog is roasting in your car.

But how did we go from moral reprobation of pet owner’s irresponsibility to active vigilantism? When did it become OK to smash private property because we disagree on animal ownership responsibilities? This isn’t a question of one unknown woman’s tirade in a Wegmans parking lot. Rather, it has turned into an open debate on social and news network forums, as to whether it is responsible to act similarly in such a situation. Here’s five good reasons that no, it probably isn’t.

5. Won’t someone please think about the dog??

Please, let’s do. Or rather, try to imagine what a creature whose species essentially co-evolved along side humans specifically to alert them to danger might feel in this situation. One in which a complete stranger with whom they cannot communicate and whose motives they cannot know starts banging their damned-fool shoe against the window.

If you answer is “freaked the fuck out,” then maybe you aught to do the poor fucking dog a favour and not stress them out?

4. You know, broken glass and shit.

Let’s say you successfully break open the window – this is not a guaranteed success, mind you, because automobile window glass is meant not to break – the result would be a hail of tiny glass shards. They’re not necessarily sharp, but that doesn’t mean they can’t scrape a dog’s cornea, lacerate their tongue or go into their lungs or stomach. And presumably, you’ve worked out a plan to extricate the dog from the car without dragging their belly across the broken glass that remains inside the door? Right? Oh, of course:

3. Good news! The dog’s free! And he’s pissed off.

I’m waiting for the news story. You know, the one where the vigilante “good guy with a brick” successfully smashes open the window and the dog, now feeling justifiably threatened and cornered in a small space, lunges directly at the throat of said vigilante. After suffering tetanus shots, stitches and a shockingly-large doctor’s bill, Joe the Hero sues the dog owner.

2. There are better ways.

If you had time enough to fruitlessly smack a goddamned shoe against a fucking window, maybe you should have used that time and your resources more wisely to cause a scene at Wegmans? If it is true that Wegmans employees chose to ignore the pleas about a dog in a car, that’s a damned shame. But nothing gets things done quite like making a big-ass scene in front of customers. Maybe you would have gotten the cops called on you, which is who you wanted in the first place?

I guess I’m not clear why all the people who supposedly stood around and bitched about the dog owner couldn’t have just called the freaking police themselves.

1. Vigilantism has a bad reputation for a reason.

I think one of the things that most surprises me about this issue is the number of my friends who are openly hostile to the idea of Florida’s “shoot first” laws because of the potential consequences, but are as openly willing to smash open a hypothetical other person’s property if they think a hypothetical dog is in danger.

Isn’t the supposed immanent threat to the dog precisely the same slippery slope as that if the immanent threat to some cowboy hat-donning, gun-toting douchebag in a bar? Pretty sure it is.

Whose car is that and whose dog? Are they armed? Are you absolutely sure you know all the facts? Even if you’re 100% right about everything – an unlikely case, let’s be honest – are you prepared to suffer the consequences of having inserted yourself into a complete stranger’s life? You’d better be sure.

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.

1 reply on “5 good reasons to lay off the dog-in-car vigilantism”

At Lowe’s last week one of my coworkers paged over the intercom that if a customer driving such and such a car didn’t come to his vehicle to get out his dog, she’d smash his windows.

Let’s just say, she is in big big trouble.

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