When I was in New Mexico last month, my boyfriend and I went to the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs resort and spa for a weekend getaway. The spa was wonderful and the views were amazing. We hated to leave, but we had a day planned to visit some tribal ruins and Santa Fe, so we reluctantly packed up and headed out to the car. When we approached the backside of the parking lot, I heard a dog barking.

As usual when I hear this sound in a parking lot, I thought to myself, “Please don’t be a dog left in a car.” Unfortunately, it was. It was the summer in New Mexico at high noon, and some idiot left her dog in the car. I gave Mike the look that he knows means our afternoon plans were about to take a detour, and he settled in for the journey.

The first step I took, which you should always do, was to go back into the spa and ask them to try to find the owner. Luckily, they were very agreeable. After about an hour of being unable to locate the owner, the next step was to call the police.

I started with 911, but they weren’t sure where to send me because animal control was not available on the weekends. So they suggested I call the state police. To my surprise, both a local and a state police officer showed up in no time. I was so pleased. (Note: The windows were cracked, and I stayed assessed of the temperature. If I felt he was in immediate danger, I could have legally broken the window.)

Not long after they removed the dog from the car, the owner showed up. I was fully prepared to tear into her, but the state police officer gave it to her so bad I didn’t have to say a word. He was calm but disputed every ridiculous excuse she had and completely put her in her place. It was fantastic.

Luckily, this story ended well, but every year hundreds of dogs die in cars in the US. On an 80-90 degree day, the inside of the car can reach 120-160 degrees within 10 minutes. Please never leave your dog in a hot car, and never just walk by if you see an animal trapped in a car. You may be the only hope to save them from intense suffering and possibly death.

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