One woman got punched in the head, twice, another got grabbed by the throat and had claw marks down her chest. Another went to jail.
The dog, however, emerged uninjured.
As the weather warms up and people leave pets in the car while they run errands, and other people keep an eye out for those pets lest they perish in the car, an incident last week over a dog left in an SUV shows how volatile and aggressive humans can be when it comes to dogs.
A Poulsbo woman who routinely patrols parking lots looking for dogs in distress applauded the women who removed the dog last Tuesday, as well as the Bremerton Police officer who said the dog removers acted “in good faith” and were not cited. However, she thinks lawmakers need to write a law making sure good Samaritans are protected.
Here is what happened:
A 52-year-old Port Orchard woman took her friend’s teenage daughters to a show at the movie theater on Fourth Street in Bremerton. She left her dog inside her car. She cracked the windows and left it a bowl of water.
Meanwhile, employees of a nearby business believed the unseasonably warm weather and direct sunlight was putting the dog in distress (A National Weather Service meteorologist said the high for the day was 61 degrees). They called police for a check on the dog, but nobody arrived. They tried breaking the window, to no avail.
One of the employees – the one who got choked – has skinny arms and she was able to reach into the SUV and unlock the door, releasing the dog.
When the 52-year-old Port Orchard woman returned from watching a movie, all hell broke loose. At first she thought the dog had been stolen, so she called 911. While on the phone, the employees approached her with the dog.
The employee said the Port Orchard woman was calm at first, but then attacked her. The Port Orchard woman said she felt threatened. During the punching, the other employee tried to intervene, the report said, but that’s when the suspect grabbed her by the throat. The two teenage girls were shocked by what they saw and refused to go with the woman.
The Port Orchard woman’s husband came and said he would take the dog, the teenage girls and the SUV. The woman was arrested for two counts of fourth-degree assault. When she inquired about the removal of her dog, the officer said, “It appeared that it was a good faith effort for the safety of the dog,” according to the report.
Last summer I wrote about Sandra Crump, who almost instinctively roves parking lots on hot days looking for dogs left in cars.
She knows how quickly those confrontations can escalate. She has never been punched or grabbed by the throat, but one time an “elderly gentleman” started swinging his cane at her, using “filthy and vile language.”
“He limped through parking lot after me, his wife was aghast,” she said, who has a sense of humor about herself, and has called her fixation on looking for overheated dogs a “curse.”
It can also lead to violent encounters. You never know who you might be upsetting, or what kind of frame of mind they might be in when you confront them.
“I guess they are embarrassed,” she said of those she has confronted. “People don’t want to be told don’t beat your kid. ‘It’s my kid.’ People don’t want to have others interfere with their property. But (a dog) has rights.”
Crump believes state lawmakers should clarify that a residents will not be subject to prosecution, although local law enforcement officials have said if one acts in good faith to save a life — dog or human or otherwise — they are unlikely to get in trouble for breaking a window or entering somebody else’s car.
Aside from legal protections, Crump said a new law would raise awareness and might help eliminate the practice of leaving dogs in cars entirely.
She said she was relieved to hear about the people who freed the dog last week, saying it made her feel less lonely.
“I’m not the only nutcase out there,” she said.