Dog's Best Friend

In these parts, we're all understandably outraged about the War on Dogs, an apparent precursor to the rising police state. After all, we've befriended some of the cutest dogs on the planet.


It's only fair, then, that I give the copper his due. Today, I went to the public library. Following local custom, I had pulled through one parking spot and into the one opposite to set up an easy departure. In that space, I was flanked by an SUV on one side and a white minivan on the other.

After czeching out some language-related materials, I made my way to the parking lot. There, a police cruiser was parked laterally in front of my vehicle and the adjacent minivan. The latter's owner had left the building when I did. Ignoring me, the policeman intercepted that guy.

"License, registration, and proof of insurance, please."


"There's a dog in your vehicle. It might be 110 or 120 degrees in there. Your windows are up. His life is at risk. That's illegal."


They unsealed the door, and out popped the panting head of a large, goofy, loveable canine, none the worse for sweltering.

Nobody had parked behind my drive in the interim, so I backed up, drove around, and went on my way, wondering how this had come to pass, and feeling glad for dog's sake that it had.

Well done, Office X of the Y police force. Well done.

Last 5 posts by David Byron


  1. William says

    In the newsroom where I work, we hear at least two calls per day over the scanner responding to reports of dogs locked in cars. That's a lot of really sad stories we don't have to write about. Cheers to officer X of Y police force and whoever called it in.

  2. thegeek says

    During the summer at my work we call the cops/animal control at least once or twice a week on these numbnuts and warn even more. Where I live it gets into the triple digits a lot and in a car that can heat it up to 130+ pretty damn quick.

  3. says

    I will condemn cruelty to animals along with David and the other commenters. Yet the incident described has nothing to do with maintaining an ordered society. When you cheer the actions of the state in matters that are merely repugnant, but don't actually affect other people, you have taken that first step on the slippery slop to police action on everything that anyone finds distasteful. So when there's a drug war and modesty laws and restrictions on marriage or immigration, … remember to consider: where is that bright moral line between where YOU cheer on the state and where they do.

  4. Ivraatiems says

    Evil cops prevent car from exercising its right to suffocate dog! Where's Clark when we need him?

  5. ketchup says

    piperTom – your argument makes the implicit assumption that people have more inherent value than dogs. I happen to agree, but there are many people who do not. Some would argue that people have no inherent value, while others would argue that animals have the same inherent value as people. To some people, stopping a dog from suffocating is as relevant to an ordered society as stopping a baby from suffocating.
    Again, I happen to agree that suffocating a dog is wrong, but that dogs do not have as great an inherent value as people. But there are some people who will disagree with your conclusion because they do not accept your premise.

  6. David C says

    The dog was obviously there longer than David was in the building since it was the same minivan, so it wasn't a situation where the guy was only out of the car for 30 seconds to drop a book in the book return. And it's August, so I'm going to assume that wherever he is, it's not a situation where it's 50 degrees outside. On the other hand, the dog was OK, so can you really say the owner was being cruel? And on a totally unrelated note, what does proof of insurance have to do with anything? The officer never saw the guy driving the van.

    PiperTom, if your ideals state that locking a dog in a hot car has to be legal, I might have to reject those ideals. You want to avoid the slippery slope, but I think you backed so far away from the cliff that you're falling down the other side of the mountain.

  7. Grifter says


    It's not even that; PiperTom makes the assumption that animal cruelty laws are on the same level as modesty laws–that is, that animals have NO value whatsoever outside of personal preference, and that preventing outright cruelty to animals does not contribute to an ordered society. It is, at the risk of seeming hyperbolic, the kind of argument a sociopath might make as he's skinning a puppy.

  8. DRJlaw says

    @David C

    And on a totally unrelated note, what does proof of insurance have to do with anything? The officer never saw the guy driving the van.

    You make the mistake of assuming that the requirement for insurance only relates to the driver. It does not in many states. The requirement for insurance may also relate to the licensed vehicle — the one with the clearly visible plates and expiration stickers. If the vehicle is not insured throughout the registration period, the R.O. can rack up a violation.

    Also, let's not pretend that it's not obvious when a driver returns to a car. They've usually got their keys out. They're usually headed for the driver's side door. That person was perfectly free to claim that they weren't the driver, then wait for the 'other' driver to show. And wait… and wait… I suspect the person either did not think of or did not want to attempt that charade.

    You would do well to remember that once there's grounds for a stop, such as the slow-roasting dog, the officer can ask all sorts of questions. Whether the person is obligated to answer them is another question, most of the time. For license, registration, and proof of insurance, you don't get much of a choice — produce the documents or produce the 'other' driver.

  9. John Barleycorn says

    "Well done, Office X of the Y police force. Well done."

    Really? I just can't for some reason get my head around this warm and fuzzy feeling.

    "They unsealed the door, and out popped the panting head of a large, goofy, loveable canine, none the worse for sweltering"

    So, I imagine you kept tabs on the dogs owner and he never watered his animal, for the hours and hours and hours he was away. You assumed and Officer X was certain that he took it upon himself to torture the beast while viewing some online porn at computer cubical #14.

    Thankfully a proud citizen (not you it seems) called Officer X who "saved the day"?

    Then you drove home with your reading materials and didn't forget to stop at the ice-cream parlor to buy a half gallon for the wife and kid/s to share while reading bedtime stories. You couldn't help but to look while reading to admire your new blinds from the Home Depot.

    Smug as a bug in a rug.


    How sweet.

  10. John Barleycorn says

    If I am not mistaken Eisenhower had that goofy looking dog in mind back in January of 1961.

    What are you going to do? "Saving" the goofy looking canines is a good place to balance ones personal scales even if vicariously.

    You didn't give testimony to the atrocity though? What's up with that? I get it, you pay your taxes.

    Home Depot is having a great sale this fall on carpet this fall. Pet resilient even.

    Don't miss it!

  11. John Barleycorn says

    The FOP needs the cash David. PR is a suffering as of late but they do, do a thankless dog days work every tour. Thank you.

    You just might have saved a feral kitten lost under an overpass that wasn't worthy of the fire departments attention.

  12. Ken Mencher says

    I'm sorry…where's Clark when you need him? Obviously, this incident was fabricated by the police to obtain "probable cause" to search the minivan for some random contraband the police officer will plant in the van to arrest the person…that dog is probably a stunt police dog planted in the vehicle.

    You can't trust the police…ever! By providing them "kudos", you're buying into the theory that police are necessary! Down with the man! Fight the police!

  13. mud man says

    My dog thinks it's abusive to leave her at home when I'm going someplace, esp. if there might be a walk. And I park in the best shade available, leave the roof open, set out a dish of water and live in a place where 75 is a real scorcher. I have been spoke to about it.

  14. Waldo says

    I'm all in favor of laws against animal cruelty. And, it certainly can be cruel to leave a dog in a car, depending on a lot of factors. But, it certainly can also be true that there is nothing wrong about leaving a dog in a car. My dog loves to go with me when I'm running around. I leave her at home if it's too hot and sunny outside or if I'm going to be away from the car for too long. Otherwise, we're both happy to have the company.

  15. Dan Weber says

    Yes, it depends on context. David is telling the story so presumably he knows if he lives in an area of the country where heat-death-in-car is a real threat for canines (and humans). Transplants to southern regions don't always know this stuff, the same way transplants to northern regions don't always know how to layer clothes in the winter, and need to have this discussed with them.

    On the other hand, we have a woman being charged for leaving her 11 year old human child in a car in Connecticut:

  16. Ivraatiems says

    @Ken Mencher

    I KNEW IT!

    Remember, folks: An organization you disapprove of must, by definition, be incapable of doing good things. That's how you know they're as evil as you believe they are!

    That dog knew what it was getting into. It was probably in league with them the whole time.

  17. Dion Starfire says

    For all those decrying the police officers action, remember that the cops behavior after he received the requested documents is not known. It's not unlikely (quite the reverse, actually) that the cop simply let the guy go with a verbal warning. Unless the cop uncovered some other evidence of animal cruelty (of the life-endangering kind), the worst that could happen to the dogs owner is a fine (which, admittedly, can get rather hefty). Not an unreasonable burden to ease society's conscience.

  18. jdgalt says

    I'm with @Waldo. It may or may not have been hot enough that the cop had reasonable cause to break into that van; I wasn't there. But I'd rather police not have that choice, unless I get to make them pay for the damage to the car in the much larger number of cases that it turns out there was no real need. And that goes if there's a child in the car, too.

  19. Grifter says


    Based on the story as presented, the cop didn't break into the car.

    Incidentally, in my state, anyone has the right to break into your car if there's a dog dying in there, since "120 degrees" is basically just the ambient temperature, and when it's 100 degrees out it takes less than 15 minutes for a sealed car to get to 140 degrees or so. It's a 'necessity defense', as far as I understand it, though I'm not a fancy law-talkin' guy.

  20. says

    Unfortunately police _helping_ dogs pail to their more common response to our four legged friends. As in this recent article posted in the Bangor Daily News. Some of the comments posted illustrate an even starker view of the relationship between law enforcement and non human non LEO's.

  21. Vee says

    My parent would leave me in a sweltering or freezing car for hours rather regularly and with the car alarm on. If I dared exit the car due to discomfort, the need to eliminate, the need to vomit, or because it was around 100 F outside in the Delta and the (dark paint, black interior) car was parked in the sun, that was at minimum a good screaming to for a few hours and some verbal abuse, and more often also the bonus of a beating. Talk about operant conditioning! Maybe this Connecticut mother isn't like my parent, or maybe she is, but I don't have too much sympathy for her new legal troubles.