Safety first: Hot weather = danger for dogs

So I went to the Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland for my job at the Bangor Daily News last Friday. It was a hot day and definitely full of lots of fun. Even in a short sleeved shirt and shorts, I was hot.

And no doubt, for some (especially our furry friends), it was hotter. Bill and I chose to take Laura with us on Saturday to the festival, but we cut our stay short due to the heat. I must say that the Maine Lobster Festival is one of the most dog-friendly festivals I’ve been to in a long time. And it’s a great sight to behold.

What wasn’t so great to behold was what I encountered on my way back to the car on Friday. There, stuck in the cab of a dark blue/black Tacoma pickup truck was a poor black dog who was panting for all it had in it. The windows were cracked a bit, but the truck was parked in full sun. I couldn’t remember if Maine law said anyone could break into a vehicle if there’s a dog (or a child) in distress.

So I did the next best thing… I reported it to the Brass Compass Restaurant, which the truck was parked in front. The hostess assured me she would see if they could find the owner.

I should have stayed.

I will next time.

I truly hope the pooch inside the truck is OK.

If you encounter a situation like this, you can make a difference by doing the following:

1. Take down a description of the vehicle (make, model, color) and license plate as well as description of the animal in the vehicle. Consider taking a photo as evidence.

2. Maine has a law on the books in regards to animals in parked cars. This law allows “a law enforcement officer, humane agent or animal control officer may take all steps that are reasonably necessary to remove an animal from a motor vehicle if the animal’s safety, health or well-being appears to be in immediate danger.

Must leave written notice bearing the officer’s or agent’s name and office and the address of the location where the animal may be claimed.”

Here’s what the law actually says: “ยง 4019. Removal from unattended motor vehicle 1. Removal authorized. A law enforcement officer, humane agent or animal control officer may take all steps that are reasonably necessary to remove an animal from a motor vehicle if the animal’s safety, health or well-being appears to be in immediate danger from heat, cold or lack of adequate ventilation and the conditions could reasonably be expected to cause extreme suffering or death.

2. Notice required. A law enforcement officer, humane agent or animal control officer who removes an animal in accordance with subsection 1 shall, in a secure and conspicuous location on or within the motor vehicle, leave written notice bearing the officer’s or agent’s name and office and the address of the location where the animal may be claimed. The owner may claim the animal only after payment of all charges that have accrued for the maintenance, care, medical treatment and impoundment of the animal.

3. Immunity. A law enforcement officer, humane agent or animal control officer who removes an animal from a motor vehicle pursuant to subsection 1 is immune from criminal or civil liability that might otherwise result from the removal.”

Here’s the verbiage in the Maine law.

Be smart and don’t be selfish. If the restaurant you want to go to is NOT dog-friendly, don’t bring your dog with you. It’s not cool, it’s not safe and most of all, it’s not humane.