A nearly unbearable heat wave thick with humidity nestled itself across Canada, particularly in the east. Humidity advisories were issued in the regions surrounding Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and other communities time and again since the end of June. Meteorologists are telling people to stay out of the sun, and ensure everyone in the family stays cool and accounted for.
Unfortunately, some people refuse to take the advice from Canada’s weather experts. Over the last several weeks, reports came in across the country describing pets and children locked in cars out in the baking sun, while the parents shopped in malls or grocery stores. Some of these cases resolved peacefully without incident, others ended with angry crowds berating the neglectful parents – while some cases, tragically, ended in death.
Arguably the most famous case of parental neglect this summer occurred in Kemptville, a small community located south of Ottawa near the Rideau River. The case involved a man entering Walmart, who left his dog locked in the car during a heat alert. The man’s neglect was witnessed by former Walmart employee Carla Cheney, who reported what she saw to the police. By the end of the day, Cheney was let go from her job with Walmart hinting she was fired for being “rude” to a customer.
The case reached the ears of animal rights activists, who stood up for Cheney and helped spread her story across Canada. In response to the public backlash, Walmart insists it will add signs to parking lots alerting customers of the dangers of locking pets and children in hot cars.
But are signs enough to get the message across? At Vaughan Mills, where a dog locked in a car last summer tragically died from the heat, security guards are on patrol for locked up pets this summer. Vaughan Mills General Manager Stephen Gascoine says the death last summer instilled a proactive need by the mall to prevent another tragedy.
“We ask if the pets are going to be left in the car. If yes, we ask, what arrangements have owners made for the pet’s safety.”
Shoppers are told that if they have a small pet, the animal is allowed to accompany them in the mall. Large pets aren’t allowed inside, but mall security, rightly, will not allow customers to leave their pets locked in the car either. Unfortunate as it is, more shopping centres need these security teams as there are evidently far too many neglectful or ignorant caretakers across the country.
The heatwave is also risking the lives of children left behind in hot cars by ignorant guardians. At the end of June in Milton, a woman left her two-year old grandson in her car for what police described as “an extended period of time” during a heat alert. The boy sadly was unable to withstand the heat, and died that afternoon. The woman is now facing charges of criminal negligence causing death for a tragedy that could easily have been prevented simply by thinking clearly.
According to the Canada Safety Council, internal temperatures in a car can rise above 50 degrees in only 10 minutes on an extremely hot day. Pets and children left alone in these hot boxes for any period of time are being put in harm’s way by their neglectful guardians, people that animals and children rely on to take care of them. How does someone rightfully care for another life by abandoning them to extreme heat?
Heat and cars are simple common sense – extreme heat makes the internal temperature inside the car unbearable for anyone. If you’re going shopping during a heat alert, take the pets or the children inside with you, or leave them at home with another caretaker. If you can’t do this, don’t go shopping – missing out on one sale is worth more than losing a loved one to the sun.
Photo by The Conway Animal Welfare Unit
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A young and creative writer, Gary is a very opinionated person who is not afraid to speak his mind. He uses writing to express his thoughts, and feels attached to his work. Gary believes that an article or a post is both an expression of the writer’s beliefs, but it should also challenge the reader to develop an opinion of their own. As a result, Gary expresses his own opinion within his writing, while leaving room for readers to agree or disagree with thoughts of their own.