York Regional Police released the names of two people charged with animal cruelty after a dog died in the backseat of their parked car at a shopping centre Sunday.
Matthieu Arbour, 21, and Angele Lazurko, 20, of Val Caron, Ont., are charged with causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and will appear in court on July 10.
They were shopping at Vaughan Mills when a passerby spotted their dog, a chocolate Labrador mix, in distress around 2:15 p.m. and notified mall security.
A security guard said his colleagues were called to the south end of the parking lot near Bass Pro Mills Dr. and notified emergency services. He said he’s never heard of a similar occurrence in his three years on the job.
Police say security personnel tried to splash water through a small opening in the window of the silver four-door Dodge Avenger. Fire crews later broke open the back-left window after the dog had fallen unconscious.
The mercury soared to 32C in Vaughan on Sunday, but the temperature inside the vehicle would have been much higher.
The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says a dog’s normal body temperature is about 39C and that dogs can only stand being 41C for a short time before irreparable brain damage or death occur.
Officials tried in vain to resuscitate the dog and impounded the car.
“It’s such a tragedy. We hear about it every year,” said Barbara Steinhoff of the Toronto Humane Society. “They probably thought they were just gonna run in and run out, and in the end it’s a preventable tragedy.”
Dogs release heat slowly through panting, as they have no pores. While open windows and a bowl of water can help, Steinhoff said it’s safest to leave dogs at home. She said most cases happen when people are delayed after planning to only be gone a few minutes.
Breeds tolerate heat differently, Steinhoff said, noting that a husky might have had issues just being outside Sunday. She said even five minutes in a vehicle in the day’s blazing heat would be too much for most pets.