Motorists who spotted a distressed German shepherd in a crate strapped to the back of a travelling RV on a B.C. highway are expressing outrage amid an unprecedented heat wave.
Heather Peters said she was travelling along Highway 1 near Abbotsford, B.C., at approximately 3 p.m. on Sunday when she spotted the dog crate and the RV.
“I was like, ‘Oh please dear God, please do not let there be a dog in there,’ and of course, I pulled to the side and we were at a light on Sumas Way, and there was a dog panting. His tongue was sticking out to the side. He was a big German shepherd.”
Peters said she contacted police and followed the RV eastbound until the Highway 3/5 exits to get a licence plate number.
“It made me feel very angry and very sad that somebody would actually let their dog be in the back of a trailer and dying in the heat for four hours. This makes me very upset,” Peters told Global News.
“It hurts me because I am a dog owner myself and I brought my dog to work today because the house is too hot.”
Lisa Bohn also said she spotted the vehicle while travelling east with her husband on Highway 1 near Hope on Sunday afternoon, en route to her cabin in 100 Mile House.
“We both looked at each other and said, ‘Is that a dog carrier on the back of the trailer?’ Caught up to it and sure enough, there was a dog in that carrier on the very back of the camper trailer,” Bohn said.
“The only thing I could see is the dog was trying to stand up in the crate and kept falling down and looked to be very wet, like, wet fur,” Bohn said.
“I was horrified. Both my husband and I were. I was appalled. I was angry. I actually cried after I reported it to the police because I didn’t know what the outcome was if they would find this person.”
The RV was spotted again near Keremeos, B.C., at approximately 8:30 p.m., travelling east on Highway 3. A passing motorist contacted local authorities.
Sgt. Jason Bayda said police are investigating the report as “legitimate.”
“The caller did not see a dog in the crate but regardless, the vehicle descriptions were sent out to the surrounding detachments in the hopes a vehicle stop could be done,” said Bayda.
“Unfortunately, the vehicle was not located.”
He said the vehicle is registered to a business in the Lower Mainland and that investigators will follow up to try to determine who had possession of it over the weekend.
The BC SPCA is also investigating the disturbing reports.
“We received a number of calls from individuals who were outraged,” said senior officer of protection Eileen Drever.
“The temperatures are extreme and there is no excuse for this. I can’t even imagine what excuse they will come up with, but it’s absolutely unacceptable.”
Drever said the dog owner could face animal cruelty charges.
“The maximum penalty under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act is a $75,000 fine, and/or a prohibition from owning animals, and/or two years in prison,” she said.
Most of B.C. is under a heat warning issued by Environment Canada, as temperatures surpass 40 C in some areas. Abbotsford’s maximum temperature was 41.5 C on Sunday.
Late Monday, the dog and its owner was located safe and sound at a campground in Oliver, B.C. The animal was not seized.
Police are working with SPCA enforcement officers “to determine the most applicable charge or charges in this matter and the next steps to ensure the dog’s continued safety,” Bayda said.
Drever encouraged pet owners to be responsible and take precautions to prevent their animals from overheating.
“Leave them at home with access to fresh water. Do not leave your dog in a car, even for a couple of minutes, because your dog could die in 10 minutes.”