It is estimated the Labrador Retriever was in the car parked in a suburban Toronto mall for at least two hours in the middle of a hot day.
There are certain signs that winter is finally over. Shovels are removed from front porches, birds are chirping, and reports begin to surface about babies and pets left in parked vehicles on hot days where they suffer serious injury or death.
A passer-by discovered the one and one-half year old chocolate Labrador in a car in the parking lot of the Vaughn Mills shopping centre, just north of Toronto. The vehicle was not parked in the shade and a window was open just a crack.
The person who discovered the dog contacted mall security who in turn called 911. When firefighters arrived, they put water into the car while they worked on lowering the window so they could retrieve the pet. But while they were working, the dog lapsed into unconsciousness and died.
It was a hot afternoon. York Regional Police Inspector Shelley Rogers was quoted in the Toronto Sun as saying, "My truck thermometer was registering 34°C (93.2°F). And that's in a cooled down truck."
Rogers was also quoted by Citytv as saying, "You can just imagine what that temperature was and the conditions the dog was exposed to for that period of time. You can't leave a dog in a car in this weather for five minutes...the dog suffered, and the dog died as a result of it so this is a tragedy all around."
A 21-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman from northern Ontario were arrested when they returned to the car. The couple, whose names were not released, face charges of cruelty to animals.
According to the Ontario SPCA [PDF], a dog's normal body temperature is 39°C (102°F). At temperatures of 41°C or 106°F, the animal can suffer irreparable brain damage and death. It does not take much, even on a mild sunny day, for the inside of a car to reach that temperature.
Ironically, the man and woman were returning home to Sudbury after attending Woofstock, held in Toronto this past weekend. According to its website, Woofstock, an annual event held in the city since 2003, is the largest outdoor festival for dogs in North America.
If convicted, the maximum penalty the couple face is a $2,000 fine or six months in jail, or both.