All Blake and Marla Handley can do now is laugh.
On Wednesday, the couple went for lunch at the Ocean Point Resort in Victoria and left their dog Rory in the back seat of the car.
The thing about Rory is he is a toy, a stuffed dog the couple keeps as a memory of a now deceased bearded collie.
So when the Handleys returned to their car after lunch they were surprised to find the passenger-side window of their vehicle smashed. Another couple nearby informed them they had broken it because they were concerned about the dog’s well being.
“They said they saw the dog in the back of the car and were worried he wasn’t moving, so they shook the car and set the alarms off and rapped the windows and nothing happened,” said Handley.
“They got more concerned and called the police and police told them if you are concerned smash the window of the car. They did and found our toy dog in the back.”
One of the great ironies of the Handleys’ story is that the lunch they were heading to was being held by the BC SPCA to honour long-time donors.
The couple is not angry that someone tried to save their dog, but is hoping the story leads to a conversation about when this sort of vigilantism is appropriate.
“People shouldn’t be going around breaking windows because of what they think, because they could be wrong and it might be a toy dog,” said Handley.
In June, BC SPCA spokesperson Lorie Chortyk said her organization received 1,000 reports of distressed animals locked in hot vehicles in 2017.
She said by June of this year, the organization had already received 400 such reports.
The SPCA has repeatedly told the public not to smash windows to save dogs or children, but instead call them or the police, who will come out and assess the situation.
WATCH: Man breaks BMW window on hot day to free dog
The organization says concerned people should call the BC SPCA cruelty hotline at 1-855-662-7722 and they will contact the nearest SPCA constable, animal control or police officer who will attend the scene.
Alternately, it advises concerned members of the public to take down the vehicle licence plate number and check with the managers of nearby businesses who may be able to locate the owner.
The Handleys are now left with a $200 deductible to cover the cost of repairing the broken window. But Brett says he is happy that the couple who smashed the window stuck around to explain what had happened.
WATCH HERE: SPCA warns pet owners about deadly heat
“I was more honoured and pleased with them because they owned up to it. They could have left and I would have just thought that someone was stealing Rory,” said Handley.
“It was my first concern, as soon as I saw the open window I looked for Rory to ensure that he was there.”
The Handleys have since printed a tag, which they have attached to Rory that reads “not a real dog” in the hopes of preventing future such incidents.
-With file from Simon Little