Dog Dies in Hot Car After Owner Leaves to Shop in Walmart

By Paula Liu

A pit bull mix died after being left in a car for three hours while the owner of the vehicle shopped in Walmart on Aug. 22, according to multiple reports.

Crystal Marie Houk, the owner of the dog, went to Walmart in Pensacola and left her dog in her Toyota Camry in the parking lot off Highway 29, WEAR-TV reported. In a video taken by Shelia Anderson Kennedy, who was a bystander during the incident, authorities at the parking lot pronounced the animal dead. Houk, according to the video, sounded very upset and was inconsolable during the discovery of her dog, FOX 8 reported.

Although the temperature on that day was 89 degrees, the news outlet reported that it felt more like 100 degrees.

Chip Simmons, the Chief Deputy of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, said animal control tried to take the dog’s temperature. They were unable to as the thermometer’s maximum temperature level was capped, according to WFLA News Channel 8.

“Animal control tried to take the temperature of the animal itself and found that the temperature of the animal pegged out the thermometers that they were trying to use,” Simmons said.

Houk was charged with animal cruelty—a third-degree felony.

According to WFLA News Channel 8, Houk told the authorities that when she went to Walmart, she left the air conditioning on for her dog. However, the Walmart employee who opened the car door to rescue the dog said that the car was blowing hot air instead.

“You’ve got a high temperature, in the middle of summer. You’ve got a closed door, and you’ve got hot air blowing on an animal like that, and ultimately, this is what happens,” said Simmons, WFLA News Channel 8 reported.

After leaving her dog in the car, Houk said she was only in Walmart for a short amount of time. However, surveillance camera footage showed the dog in her car for more than three hours, from 9 a.m. to around noon on that day, according to WEAR-TV.

Houk was arrested on charges of animal cruelty but is now released. She will be back in court on Sept. 12.

Man Breaks Window to Save Dog

A man in New Mexico broke the window of a hot car to save a dog trapped inside on Sunday, Aug. 4, according to multiple reports.

Gerasimos Klonis and his girlfriend were having lunch in Albuquerque at the Little Anitas restaurant. They noticed a dog trapped in the car parked next to theirs, according to KRQE News 13. Klonis said that he saw the dog was in distress in the heated car but wasn’t able to open the door to let the animal out.

“There was a vehicle parked right next to me, and what got my attention was I heard a dog crying,” Klonis told the news outlet.

Klonis told KOB4 that the dog was attempting to get air by sticking its snout through the crack in the partly lowered window. “It was obviously struggling to breathe,” he said.

The couple waited a few minutes, in case the owner returned to his vehicle. When there was no sign of the owner, Klonis’s girlfriend called the police, CBS 17 reported.

Klonis told the news outlet that ten minutes after calling the police, no one had shown up yet, and the dog was still clearly suffering. “We didn’t feel comfortable waiting too long cause every minute counts and that dog was not happy,” he told the news outlet.

“The longer I waited, the more I was thinking about this moral dilemma to myself the more the answer became obvious to me because the dog was in clear distress,” Klonis said, according to KOB4.

Ten minutes later, authorities still hadn’t shown up, so Klonis decided that he couldn’t wait anymore because the dog was suffering in the hot car. He smashed the car window and removed the animal from the vehicle. Klonis said he didn’t want to break the owner’s car, but felt he had no choice but to smash it, saying he did not want to see the dog die because of his inaction.

“It was pawing at the window, it was trying to dig its way out of the car,” Klonis told KRQE News 13.