The local evening news this past Sunday had a story that both saddened and angered me. Angele Lazurko and Matthieu Arbour from Sudbury, Ont. – along with their pooch, Tucker– had come to Toronto for the weekend to attend Woofstock, the world’s largest outdoor festival for dogs. As they left town Sunday, they stopped at Vaughan Mills, a metropolis of a mall just north of Toronto. While the young couple spent two hours shopping, Tucker was left in the car, windows opened barely a smidgen. Sunday was a real scorcher in the Toronto area – 34 degrees Celsius. A patrol guard noticed the dog in distress and called 911. Firefighters were called to the parking lot and smashed the window of the vehicle to get to the dog. But it was too late. Tucker died a short while later. The couple has been charged with causing unnecessary suffering to an animal. When I first saw the news report, my reaction was, “What a complete idiot!” (Well, the language was a little stronger.) While I still can’t get over the lack of common sense, I’ve stopped harping on the couple’s act. I’m sure the verbal beating the young lady is giving herself – not to mention the guilt she must now live with – is far worse. I don’t think this was a case of intentional cruelty, but rather thoughtless stupidity. You see, Lazurko had once rescued Tucker, as well as other animals. She worked at a pet store and fundraised for the SPCA. She’s even taking courses so one day she can open her own pet-related business. Let's at least use this tragedy as a chance to review how to keep your pet safe on a hot summer day. Here are a few things to keep in mind. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Drinking water is a must for Fido on a hot day, but a quick splash will also help keep him cool. (photo: Wikipedia)"][/caption] • Leave your pet at home! Let him keep cool in the comfort of an air-conditioned room, not a sauna on four wheels; if he’s outside, stick to the shade. • If you insist on bringing him with you, never leave him alone in the vehicle. Keep the air conditioning turned on. Leaving the windows partially down, parking in the shade and providing water will not prevent heat exhaustion. On a hot day, the inside of a vehicle can reach 50 degrees Celsius in 10 minutes and lead to your dog suffering heatstroke – or worse. • Always bring water with you and give to your pup in frequent small amounts. • If you have a long-haired pet, take him for regular grooming to lighten his coat. • Take him for his walks in the morning or later in the evening. • Yes, dogs love sticking their heads out car windows to feel the wind in their hair. So no doubt they love the open-air offered by the bed of a pick-up truck. But the metal back there can burn the puppy’s paws, not to mention pose safety issues. Let him ride shotgun upfront instead. • Talk to your vet about pet-safe sunscreen. Dogs with light-coloured noses or fair fur on their ears are at greater risk for sunburn. Do you agree with the charges brought against the couple? (I do.) How do you keep your pet safe during the hot, humid days of summer?