A Vancouver pet owner unleashed a tirade of anger and obscenities at two women who were trying to help a French bulldog that was "overheating" inside his parked car.
Jennifer Thi, who works at a nearby pet supply store, posted a video showing part of Monday's confrontation on Facebook.
It all began when Simone Rasmussen and her sister pulled up to the 7-Eleven and saw a black bulldog "excessively drooling in the car parked beside us," Rasmussen told HuffPost B.C. "I was worried that the dog was overheating because he was also panting very heavily."
A B.C. veterinarian says pets can overheat to the point of death inside vehicles in mere minutes.
Rasmussen didn't know how long the dog had been there, or how long it was going to stay. So she went into the convenience store and asked everyone if that was their silver car and dog. "People either said no, or didn't answer me," she explained in an email.
After canvassing the salon next door, Rasmussen then went into the pet supply store to check but still couldn't locate the dog's owner.
A confrontation unfolded in this Vancouver strip mall parking lot.
Thi then went outside with her to take a look.
"The windows in the car were opened half an inch and the dog was panting heavily, drooling, and was trying to be as close to the crack of fresh air as possible with not even any water in the car," she wrote in her Facebook post.
Her co-worker began calling the Vancouver police non-emergency line, while Thi and Rasmussen tried to figure out a way to help the dog.
To Thi's surprise, she found that the car's passenger door was unlocked. The two women waited for about a minute but no one claimed the car, so they decided to bring the bulldog into the pet store to wait for the owner.
As they were doing so, a man who had been sitting on the sidewalk in front of them sipping a Slurpee spoke up.
"He asked us very calmly what we were doing when he had been observing the entire thing," Thi told The Huffington Post B.C. in an interview. "I was very confused, to say the least."
She asked if the car and the dog belonged to him. He said yes — and then got angry and started screaming at the women.
"I left to grab a f**king sandwich," the man says in the two-minute video. "I was gone for five f**king minutes. You understand that? Five minutes. Go in and out. Doesn't f**king matter. Will he die in five minutes? Huh? Will he? F**k you."
The man drove away while continuing to yell at bystanders.
Rasmussen said she started filming in the middle of the confrontation because she was afraid it would deteriorate.
"I thought, oh man if he gets violent and hurts her or myself I need proof that he did indeed assault us," she said.
Thi, 18, said she originally posted the video to remind people not to leave their pets or children in hot vehicles.
However, Thi received a message on Tuesday that the dog's owner may be struggling with mental illness, so she made the video private.
"As much as the guy was mean and rude, please, just remember that the safety of the animal is what should have been the main concern and I would appreciate it if further degrading comments about the man stop," Thi wrote. "There is another side to any story and I encourage all of you to think about that as well."
Advice from police
Vancouver police are not investigating the incident because, while the man acted inappropriately, "no real crime was committed here," said Const. Brian Montague. The women were also acting out of good intentions and had no criminal intent, he noted.
In general, he said people who spot a pet inside a vehicle should call 911 first and wait for instructions from the operator. The dispatcher can assess the situation and advise if there's an officer nearby.
"We never suggest taking action on your own because you never know who you’re dealing with. You never know what kind of reaction you'll get," said Montague. "We don’t want things to escalate. I can guarantee that [the dog owner in this case] wouldn’t have acted like that had we been there."
However, Montague acknowledged that breaking a window in drastic situations where a pet's life is in obvious danger may be considered. "In most cases, it's not necessary," he said.
Vancouver police have been getting more reports than normal of animals in hot vehicles, but Montague pointed out that the weather has also been warmer than average.
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