On a recent steamy day in Whiteville, Pat Lambert got even hotter when she drove through an area parking lot.
“These people were parked over at the side under a tree,” she said. ”They had a momma dog tied to the tree, and these puppies, I guess they were four months old, in a crate in the back of their truck. They had water, but the water was hot, and those poor dogs were hassling so badly.
“It was a hundred degrees out there, and those animals were suffering,” Lambert said. “They even had a child with them, and it was awful on that parking lot. They didn’t see anything wrong with what they were doing, and those dogs were suffering.
“It made me mad.”
Lambert owns a pet sitting service, and is the founder of the Cape Fear Rescue League, which rehomes unwanted, neglected and abused dogs and cats. She also investigates cases of animal neglect and abuse.
What Lambert saw in the store parking lot the other day wasn’t that unusual, “but it pushed me over the edge.
“I called the store, and spoke kind of hard to the lady who answered the phone,” Lambert said. “I told her they needed to do something about letting people sell dogs out there in the heat, and she told me to call the police, that they couldn’t do anything as a store.”
While law enforcement was eventually contacted, the people selling the puppies left before officers arrived. Lambert took to social media to vent about animals being poorly treated in hot weather.
“The best place for a dog or any pet during hot weather is at home,” she said. “Period. If you can leave someone in the car and have the air conditioning running, that’s okay, but under no circumstances should you ever leave an animal in a hot vehicle. It’s against the law.”
Lambert said she has seen multiple people with dogs in the back of trucks, sometimes tied down with no shade or water.
“There’s no excuse for that,” she said. “If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your animals.”
Another pet peeve of Lambert’s is people who bring dogs, cats and other pets to area flea markets for sale or trade.
“I’ve seen people out there with rabbits in crates, in the direct sun,” she said. “That’s just cruel. Any animal that’s on the pavement is going to be suffering.”
Shade and cool, fresh water are vital for pets all year round, Lambert said, but especially in the summer.
“It doesn’t hurt to put some ice in your dog’s water dish,” she said. “Change your pets’ water a couple times a day. Think about what it’s like if you leave a drink in your car, and come back to it later—it’s going to be hot. Your dog’s water is like that, too. Change it. They can get heat stroke just like we can.”
Lambert said there are too many “puppy merchants” in area shopping centers, especially during the hot weather months. Sometimes people leave the dogs in a vehicle, but even with the windows open, temperatures can quickly reach deadly levels.
She encourages people to call 911 if they see animals in hot cars or other dangerous situations, “and don’t take no for an answer.
“After you talk to the police or animal control,” she said, “call the store, or go inside and speak to the manager. Don’t quit—make sure you let them know you don’t care for them allowing people to abuse animals in their parking lots. Call their national office if you have to, and don’t be afraid to talk about it on Facebook if you don’t get a satisfactory answer. That’s their property, and they should be responsible for what goes on in their parking lots.
“We need to put pressure on these businesses that allow people to set up puppy sales on hot parking lots,” she said. “The animals rely on us—they don’t have a voice, but we do.”