EDITOR’s NOTE: San Marcos City Code prohibits people from leaving animals in unattended vehicles when doing so “endanger[s] the health of the animal due to heat, lack of food or water, or such other circumstances as may cause injury or death of the animal.” Police officers can seize unattended animals thought to be in danger and issue citations to the animal’s owner.
I was traveling through San Marcos going from my home in Austin to my parents’ house in Nixon on July 2, 2013. I was taking my 11- and 14-year-old sons to Nixon to do some work for my father. I had two small dogs with me at the time. My parents had been out of town for several months traveling to Alaska and were still gone. There was no food in the house.
We had plans to stay for 10 days, so we needed a few groceries. I had plans to make a quick stop at H-E-B in San Marcos to grab what we needed. I cranked up the air conditioning on the way to make sure the car was cool. I parked as to where the sun would not hit the seats in the car and cracked the windows. I told my boys that we could not take longer than 30 minutes, it was 3:30 p.m. We rushed to get groceries and checked out at exactly 4 p.m. We took the groceries back to my car and I went to start the car so the dogs could have cool air.
It was then that I noticed my dogs were gone. My boys and I panicked. I looked to make sure that nothing had been stolen out of my car, it hadn’t. That put me in more of a panic, because my dogs were the only thing missing. A nice, young couple saw that we were panicking and had seen them take our dogs. They told us about the city ordinance and where we could go to get our dogs back. I couldn’t believe that there were no signs around letting people know of this law.
A police officer was apparently circling the parking lot waiting to write the ticket and pulled up in front of my car as I was thanking the people for their help. Officer Castillo did not have many words for me besides asking for my license. He did not inform me that he was writing me a ticket or explain the law in further detail. I finished the business at hand with both of my kids asking if they were going to get their dogs back, and me still in panic and shock. I was not impressed with his personality or the way he handled the situation.
I found the yellow piece of paper with the information on where my dogs were on my windshield. I drove there and paid my $40 to get my dogs back. I still was dumbfounded at the situation. I asked a police officer there what I could have done different and he couldn’t offer me any solutions. I was going to be gone for days and didn’t want to leave my inside dogs outside in the hot weather for that many days. I chose the 30 minutes in the car, which by the way wasn’t that hot when we got into it. I couldn’t sleep for days wondering how much the ticket was going to cost and what I could have done different.
I found out the ticket was $414, which seemed outrageous for something I had no knowledge about. I paid it right away because I wanted the whole situation behind me. I should not have paid it, but I have only received two tickets in my life, when I was a teenager, and wanted to get it over with.
I called Doug Montgomery, after I paid it , to find out if I could get the ticket reduced or dismissed, but he said he couldn’t do anything since I had already paid it (thanks for being a law abiding citizen). I asked him what the city expected people to do traveling through San Marcos with their dogs if they had to run into a store. One of the animal shelter ladies said to leave one of my kids with them (in todays’ times there is no way I would leave one of my kids alone in a strange city in a running car!), but Montgomery strongly discouraged this action.
That made me mad because I don’t know what the city expects people to do or how they expect people to know about this law. I called the superior officer to Castillo and he let me know that officers can see warnings that are given to people. I wondered why the city or police department doesn’t put into place a warning system so that people like me, who want to follow the law, can at least be given a warning.
I was meeting my mother in your city to eat and shop several times a month, but now I refuse to spend money in your city, for fear of doing something else that isn’t posted in your city but is illegal. My mother also says that she will not be going to San Marcos. We will now meet in New Braunfels.
I would like my money back, but even more I would like for this not to happen to other people traveling through San Marcos. I think you need to consider your city ordinance on this situation and remember that not everyone is knowledgeable about them. I am sending this to everyone I can think of, including H.E.B., the city, and the paper. If there is anyone else that can help me with this situation please let me know.
The San Marcos Mercury welcomes your letters to the editor. You can send them by email here.Email | Print
I am sorry Ms. Shepard had such a negative experience in S.M. I may be wrong, but I believe it is illegal in Texas to leave your keys in the ignition and/or your car running, when you go into any store, regardless of how long. As for a city ordinance against leaving dogs alone in a parked car. whether running or not, this is news to me.
Not very intelligent of anyone to leave an animal in a car. Would you leave a small child in the car? Why not? We the animal can not get out if it is suffering. It would be similar to me locking you in the trunk. Ignorance of the law is not a defense to the law, some people should not own pets. The course of action would have been to not run into the store, or to leave the pets at home, then go to the store. Then return home and get the pets and leave for your trip. So you break a minor law then complain how unfair it is for you to be punished for doing something kinda stupid and getting caught. Jut suck it up and try to learn somthing from the experience.
Oh, is it because Austin is only a cool 70 degrees year-round that you can leave living things in a vehicle in July? You might as well beat your animals with bacon-scented whips to entice them to more beatings and then punch them in the face when they bite at them. I have no nice words for you, you stupid, stupid, bitch. I really hope you read this. I’m not a member of PETA or anything, but your irresponsibility to your “pets” is clear.
Next time, leave your kids in the car as well so they can tell the police that “mommy is just in the store to feed her stupid face and our stupid faces, and maybe if we get too full the dogs can have some scraps because they’re just as stupid as our fat faces.”
Also, are your 11 and 14 year old sons that useless and untrustworthy that one of them couldn’t stay in a vehicle unattended but running for more than half an hour? What would they do, steal it and go for a joy ride? You went to the store at one of the hottest times of the day.
Maybe the public at large should force YOU to sit in a vehicle without A/C for half an hour in 100+ degree weather. Go ahead, try it you selfish, irresponsible, cunt. Then, complain about paying $414 for animals without sweat glands or means of fending for themselves.
This situation is indicative of larger problem with law/ordinance enforcement.
The problem isn’t San Marcos specific.
The age-old (think: The Merchant of Venice) issue here is the difference between ‘the letter of the law’ and ‘the spirit of the law’. In this specific case, since you were in/out in a reasonable time and the car was a reasonable temperature, the officer involved was clearly following the ‘letter of the law’ instead of the ‘spirit’. The former tends to happen to a greater extent than the latter.
The ordinance itself is a good thing in spirit. Not all people are as responsible as Jennifer. Therefore we need laws or ordinances to protect animals from this type of abuse. Leaving pets in a car for an extended amount of time during any season in Texas is dangerous.
The second issue being presented here is the lack of posted ordinances. Most municipalities, including Austin, have plenty of un-posted ordinances. In fact, I would wager that MOST ordinances/laws aren’t posted. This part of the letter should be a non issue; as it isn’t San Marcos specific, and shouldn’t be used as part of a justification for boycott.
I’m not here to say where anyone should or shouldn’t go to spend their money or time.
However, I am here to say that what happened to Jennifer isn’t just a San Marcos problem.
It’s an everywhere problem.
The car was likely 130 degrees, at least. It only takes about 10 minutes to get over 110 on days like that. A dog died in a car in Round Rock a few days later. Same high temperature for the day. It happens all the time.
Lucky nobody busted the window and took the dogs to the shelter.
Lucky the dogs were ok.
Kudos to whomever wrote the ticket. I didn’t read the whole letter, because I’m all out of tissue.
It is July!! Regardless of how “cool” you claim it is, it is still summer in Texas.
There were a variety of different options available to Ms. Shepard that did not involve neglecting her animals:
-She could have taken the dogs to her parents house and then gone back out to the store.
-She could have been more prepared and done her grocery shopping ahead of time in Austin.
-And the fourteen year old is in high school for goodness sake, he should be responsible enough to sit in a locked, running, air-conditioned car with the dogs for thirty minutes.
I support the ordinance. You wouldn’t leave your child in an unairconditioned car for 30 minutes. Why do people think it is okay to leave their pets?
I notice you are from Austin. This is directly from the Austin CIty Code.
Looks Like you’re gonna need to stay out of Austin too.
Thank You Officer Castillo. You’re one of the good guys.
§ 3-2-6 SAFETY OF ANIMALS IN MOTOR VEHICLES AND ENCLOSED SPACES.
(A) A person may not transport an animal in a motor vehicle on a public roadway unless:
(1) the animal is safely enclosed within the vehicle; or
(2) if the animal is transported in an unenclosed vehicle, including a convertible, pick-up truck, flatbed truck, or motorcycle, the animal shall be confined in a secure and appropriately sized vented container or confined in a manner that prevents the animal from falling or jumping from the vehicle or otherwise being injured.
(B) A person may not keep an animal in a motor vehicle or other enclosed space in which the animal’s health or life is endangered by high temperature, low temperature, or inadequate ventilation.
(1) A peace officer or animal control officer may, after attempting to locate the animal’s owner, remove the animal from a vehicle or enclosed space using any reasonable means, including breaking a window or lock. If professional services are required to remove the animal, the owner is responsible for the cost.
(2) A peace officer or animal control officer who removes an animal from a vehicle or enclosed space in accordance with this subsection is not liable for any resulting property damage.
Are there no grocery stores in Nixon? To bad you couldn’t wait to get groceries in your destination city. San Marcos doesn’t tolerate animal abuse no matter the temperature. It was hot from 3:30 to 4:00 on just about any day in July. Apparently the pups looked stressed. New Braunfels will likely treat you the same.
Better smarten up before you get home to Austin, or you could be in for a rude awakening.
“It is against City Ordinance to keep a pet in a parked car alone, so call the police, they will respond and rescue the animal. The pet owner could receive a Class C Misdemeanor and a $500 fine.”
I’m sorry that Ms. Shephard had such a bad experience. But if this letter is printed factually then according to her she left her dogs in a closed vehicle in a parking lot in JULY in central Texas. Perhaps she should have dropped the dogs off at her parent’s home and then returned to the store. It only takes minutes for the temperatures inside a car to reach roasting and stroke levels for occupants be they fur babies or human. Whoever reported it and whatever officers responded obviously knew that and have better things to do with their time than simply patrol parking lots for violators of this policy without just cause. Is it inconvenient? Absolutely. Should these things happen everywhere when folks absent mindedly leave dogs to deal with the heat? For sure. But they don’t. Most of the time it goes unnoticed until it is too late. Too many dogs and children die in this area in enclosed vehicles every year for her to be so certain that this is a San Marcos issue only. Again, she should have taken the dogs TO THE HOUSE and come back. JMO. I am sympathetic and as someone who has had pets I can understand that need to stop in the store. Back in the day I left my car running with the a/c on and locked it up while carrying a spare into the store and letting my dog chill in the car. Only now I know that that too is a violation and could have gotten me ticketed. Point being, I do not mean this to be callous but she got off easy. It could have been worse. She could have returned to the vehicle to dead dogs who had suffered horribly in the July heat. Not that hot? Seriously?
It’s a law in Texas, and in many other states that dogs or any other pets are not allowed be left unattended in a vehicle.
It’s summer…and no matter how high you crank the AC, that cool air begins to diminish the minute you open the door. And let’s see…you were gone for 30 minutes, and if I remember correctly, it was pretty hot on the day you mentioned.
Be thankful your dogs are okay.
I’d say San Marcos is better off without you returning. How horrible for your dogs. I’m glad the officer wrote you that ticket. I guess a better question for you is, would you leave your children in a “cool” car, windows cracked, in the middle of the summer, with the “sun not hitting the seats”? No?? Then don’t do it to your dogs either. I think your efforts of contacting everyone you can will be futile. I can’t imagine anyone siding with you on this one.
Some people shouldn’t own dogs. I think you are one of those people.
Here’s an easy solution to your situation. Drive to your parents home. Drop off your dogs. Go back to the grocery store. You may have had to double back or go out of your way, but owning dogs requires responsibility and sometimes, inconvenience. It’s not the City of San Marcos’ responsibility to have a place for you to leave your dogs when you go shopping.
You wouldn’t leave your children in a car, but you would your dog? Except for the legs, and a tail, to me these are the same. Shame on you, and I’m glad you won’t be coming back to San Marcos.
Sorry Jennifer Got a Little Ahead of Myself.
Looks like you’re gonna need to stay out of New Braunfels as well.
From New Braunfels City Ordinance.
Sec. 6-55. – Safety of animals in motor vehicles.
No person shall transport or carry on any public place any animal in a motor vehicle unless the animal is safely enclosed within the vehicle; and if traveling in an unenclosed vehicle (including but not limited to convertibles, pick-up trucks and flat bed trucks), the animal shall be confined by a vented container or cage, or by chain, rope or other device cross-tied to prevent the animal from falling or jumping from the motor vehicle or from strangling on a leash.
No person shall leave any animal in any standing or parked vehicle in such a way as to endanger the animal’s health or safety. Leaving any animal in a parked or standing motor vehicle when the outside temperature is 85 degrees Fahrenheit or greater for any period of time and the animal appears to be in distress; or confining any animal in a motor vehicle for more than four hours without adequate water shall constitute a per se danger to the animal’s health and safety. Any animal control officer or state peace officer is hereby authorized to obtain a seizure warrant from the municipal court or other court of competent jurisdiction to seize any animal that the officer has probable cause to believe is being cruelly treated and in compliance with section 821.022 of the Texas Health and Safety Code.
This section shall not apply to any animals used for bona fide law enforcement purposes.
Any person who violates any provision of this section shall be guilty of a class “C” misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not less than one dollar nor more than $500.00. It is hereby declared that the culpable mental state required by chapter 6.02 of the Texas Penal Code is specifically negated and clearly dispensed with, and such offense is declared to be a strict liability offense.
“Cruelty to animals is a serious offense. Cruelty comes in many forms such as … an animal being locked in a hot car or an animal being beaten or tortured in some way.”
well let me tell you!, my dog got out of the yard ( a couple of years ago)and the dog catcher that guy , mentioned in the article hit me with 465 ticket, they pounded the dog i got him ( the dog)the next morning, he had no tags as to who the dog was , I love my dog and i suspected he got lose and I contacted them ( the pound) asap, i told them thanks for finding him and they hit me with a fine,. there main concern was finding out if i was a city resident, so i had to pay i suspect., When i started asking around, i found out that the lady i work for , and this is downtown San Marcos, that she caught the dog catcher that same guy, at the end of their very long drive way calling there 16 year old black lab to the edge of the yard , their front yard isn’t fenced in, and he saw it was not on a leash,. she ask him what he was doing and he ran off with no response. In my opinion these A -holes at the shelter are policing for profit and they want to get your pet for fines to meet budget short falls.,or bonus! So a fare warning!, i don’t want to be known to the city for riding them because i do not trust them at all.!. i might have the city show up here and issue all sorts of fines,Welcome to America!. i have know people that they have done that to,. i wanted to protest the fine and ask them to just take me out back an whip me or something, it would be easyier that comming up with 450 bucks on my budget. but i was to scare to deal with the city, i am old school. i cann’t afford it.
Now that I know it is an ordinance I will make other arrangements for my dogs. It’s not the ordinance that will keep me from shopping in SM, it’s the fact that the officer could have warned me. I will not do it again knowing that it apparently is an ordinance in many cities. I think most of the people reading this are thinking I want sympathy. I don’t want sympathy. I want people to realize that people travel from city to city and are not always aware of the ordinances. I think all of you can agree that it would be nice to be warned or these ordinances instead of getting a ticket. Police officers can see warnings that you have received. It was an odd situation that I was put in and I chose the wrong thing. Lesson learned. But thanks for all the criticism!!. I just hope that it reaches a few people that were unaware.
The officer had no idea how long the dogs may have been left, he was following the law, and he evidently cared more for her dogs than she did. Her sons were 11 and 14–they could have each kept a leashed dog walking around outside until she returned from shopping. If she is indeed in the town every month, then it was not a strange town–and together, with two dogs in a parking lot during the day–it is pretty safe to assume the boys would have been fine.
I’d be interested to see where in Texas they do not have a similar ordinance.
Galveston, just had a two tickets for Ieating my dogs 10 minutes in the car. I’m totally outrageous and mad
Sorry for your luck ! And if you don’t love your dogs as much as you love your kids, well, we really don’t want or need your kind of people in our fair city. How dare you !
1) Jennifer is getting more vitriol than she deserves. She should have probably known better than to leave her dogs in a car in July but doing so does not ipso facto make her a monster. It was a mistake that thankfully did not result in her pet’s death. She paid her fine and, although she does say she wants her money back, that ain’t happening nor should it. Give her a break. Life’s too short to be so sanctimonious to people you don’t know.
2) Having pets is not like having children. To compare animals and human beings is absurd. In the Mercury several years back, Bill Peterson put it this way when writing about the “It’s Just A Dog Cop”: “Too many people conflate pets and children. Such people are tragically confused, when they’re not insufferable. Pets are not children and children are not pets. People who treat their pets like children are laughable, while people who treat their children like pets are dangerous. … This silly idea that pets are children trivializes parenthood, which is one of the most valuable and indispensable functions of the society. The easy moral equivalence of pet ownership with parenthood is a farce to the most irksome degree. Love your pets for what they are. They are not children.”
3) I know better than to get involved in this debate knowing how strongly people feel about animals. But I did it anyway because I’m undisciplined.
Addendum: The Bill Peterson piece I reference, “On callous cops and dying dogs,” definitely belongs in the Best of Bill Peterson compilation. It’s still a great read five years later, especially given all that is going on around here.
How would cranking the AC up on the way there and then cracking the windows keep the car cool? This makes no sense at all. I’m no genius, but it seems like opening the windows would let all the cold air out. At least that’s my experience with windows. Except if it’s winter, then the cold air comes in.
From Weather Underground:
High temperature in San Marcos for 7/2/2013 was 94 degrees.
According to the Weather Channel (http://www.weather.com/newscenter/specialtopics/slideshows/hotcar061909.html), a vehicle in 90 degrees for 30 minutes has an interior temperature of about 124 degrees.
Jennifer, you’re lucky you were just cited for the city ordinance and not arrested for animal cruelty. If I were a cop and came across your situation, you’d be in handcuffs pretty quickly.
I understand that you may not be aware of the ordinance in our town, but a little common sense can go a long way in life. It just doesn’t make sense to do what you did. And I would be completely shocked to find a municipality in Texas, or the United States, for that matter, that does not have a similar ordinance/law on the books.
As a dog owner, I’m repulsed by your actions. Too bad your dogs were just impounded and not seized. The animal shelter would have found them a much better owner. Bravo to Officer Castillo and Animal Control. Hope this letter winds up in his file as a commendation.
Thank you Brad Rollins. I know we all have made mistakes and will continue to make mistakes. People are being very harsh. If they knew how stressed I have been since this incident maybe they would understand more. They are still missing the point. It’s not about the dogs, the kids, the stupidity, or the ticket. The title they gave my letter is not a good one. I am not “outraged” over the ticket or the ordinance. I just wish that there was a warning system in place for people that don’t break the law and try to follow them. Continue with the hateful comments because that is what this world has come to.
You’re lucky that you weren’t arrested for “cruelty to animals”, and it’s common knowledge not to leave a dog in the car, in the summer.
No animal or child should be left in a car. Best to leave animals at home on shopping trips. On the subject of heat and confinement-how about more coverage on Texas inmates that die from heat and no fresh air/no AC in prisons in Texas. The animals in this story were in the confined heat for a short period of time. Out inmates in Texas spend years confined in stuffy,small over-heated cells. That is more of a concern to me that animals in a car for a short period.
Brad Rollins, perhaps rather than denigrate all of us who have feelings for pets you should just remove the extremely offensive post towards Jennifer by James Chiti, if for nothing else than his/her flagrant use of the word c—. I realize that it’s an opinons piece but really? Pet people are laughable? It sounds as though you have not had pets or children or you would know that for many folks who have pets is in a small way preparation for being a parent. At the risk of spelling out the obvious, as a pet owner you have a sensient being who is completely dependent upon you for everything–food, shelter, water, potty, bathing–and who may or may not get left behind in a vehicle on a hot day at your discretion. Surely you read your own news sources in the centex area and realize this is a real problem. Very disappointing post by you sir!
I agree people are being harsh; it must be the heat. San Marcos is a city full of loving people.
http://youtu.be/6tJJ79YoFvM Veterinarian sits in a parked car for 30 minutes to show how hot it gets.
Brad, you’re chastising those of us for being tough on someone for making a horrible mistake,(and it was a bad mistake, but no one is without error) but attacking those who think of pets more than just animals?
Sometimes after I enjoy a meal, or even a cold drink out in public, a short time afterwards I will feel the urge to potty. And even though there are times when I might like to just urinate in the middle of a crowded restaurant or defecate on a sidewalk. But I refrain from doing so, even though there are rarely any signs posted saying that I can’t just use the entire world as my toilet, because I have a functioning frontal lobe. Honestly lady, if you don’t realize that it’s probably not a good idea to leave a dog inside a vehicle in the middle of July in Texas, to the point where there’s probably a law against it, then I don’t even know how you manage to put on pants in the morning. And Brad, you’re an idiot for posting this lady’s absurd diatribe if you weren’t expecting her to receive this kind of vitriol for treating her dog with less care than most people would treat their groceries.
I don’t guess I really mean to chastise anyone. I have a dog that I love very much. She’s like a child in that she’s dependent on me. But she’s not like a child in that she is an animal as opposed to, well, a child.
I wish there was this kind of outrage about the thousands of San Marcos residents who live in poverty with limited opportunities to pull themselves out of it because there are no jobs. I really can’t believe there is any debate at all over whether humans and animals are morally equivalent beings. They are not.
Jack, I certainly knew there would be debate. And I thought it would be valuable public service message/reminder about leaving dogs in hot cars. I was even kind of amused by the letter writer’s lack of self-awareness — that she couldn’t see how this would come across to so many people — and thought that would make it a more interesting post. What I did not expect was that the comments would be so personal to the point of calling her the most offensive word in the book. But you’re right that I’m idiot for not expecting the vitriol; I’ve been doing this long enough to know everything is personal and vitriolic when people can comment behind the veil of digital anonymity.
Hellooooo yoo hoo! You could have sent your 14 year old in to the store to get the stuff. You said it was just a few things. It’s not like you were sending him into some place dangerous. You could have gone straight to the house and called out for a pizza and then gone shopping later. There were alternatives. As to wanting your money back, you’re kidding right? You could have showed up and had your say in local court. You might have gotten a reduction to your fine if you had been NICE and POLITE. The police don’t give refunds. As to your outrage, wah, wah, wah. There are REAL problems in the world. Yours ain’t among them.
I agree, Brad, there does need to be more outrage over the homeless and poverty, and steps need to be taken to resolve this. And attention also needs to be given to the plight of the elderly, children, and the special needs community.
Only jmo was ridiculous enough to somehow equate human children with dogs. I love my dog very much, but I know if it ever did as much as growl at my little baby girl I’d probably snap his doggy neck without hesitation. But dogs are much closer to humans then they are to a jar of mayonnaise, and this lady treated her dogs like the latter. And was then somehow surprised and outraged enough to right a letter about being held responsible for her cruel and thoughtless conduct. That is probably what people are reacting to.
And Brad, if you’re such a crusader for the impoverished, pray do tell what it is that you do to help alleviate the problem. Because if the San Marcos Mercury has been cutting checks to charities, or asking our local leaders the tough questions as to why they don’t seem to do more to protect our most vulnerable citizens, then I’m certainly not privy to it.
I agree, there should be more outrage about the problems facing many of our citizens.
That being said, pets are a sensitive subject and thanks to Facebook, many of us get nearly daily reminders about leaving animals in the car.
Couple that with trash talk about San Marcos and threatening to never come back (the only thing we love more than our pet kids, is our city), and the responses are far from surprising.
I take back the tissue comment. 🙂
There are obviously lots of things you’re not privy to, Jack. Civil discourse is one of them.
Brad, I’ll be more than happy to remove the veil of anonymity the next time I run into you. But I think it’s amazing for someone with enough of an audience to actually attempt make a difference in matters he purports to care about so deeply, to sit there and rue the fact that people don’t do more to lend a helping hand. YOU HAVE YOUR OWN INTERNET PAPER THAT SOME PEOPLE ACTUALLY READ. Use it to help people if you really care that much. And if it’s somehow uncivil for me to suggest to you that maybe you should put your money where your mouth is, at least figuratively speaking, then I guess you’re assessment is correct.
There aren’t words strong enough to express my contempt for this woman. Leaving a dog in a car in the sun in July in Texas isn’t “careless”, it isn’t “a mistake”, and it isn’t forgivable. It’s pure stupidity. There’s absolutely no justification, no matter how she tries to explain herself and list her excuses.
She shouldn’t have been ticketed – she should lose her privilege to own dogs and she should be made to sit in a hot car for a whole just to make sure she understands just exactly how stupid she is.
And then she has the audacity to complain that she got a ticket instead of a warning? Lady, if you don’t know that it’s against the law to leave living beings locked in a heat box, you probably shouldn’t be allowed to run loose in society.
I wish you would REPORT on said issues such as the Buie Tract so that people can express “this kind of outrage”
hey,,,, i hear they give 400.00 a pop tickets for owners who have their dogs tethered in 101 degree heat…NOT!!!
Howabout everyone who has posted today go to an Animal Control Board meeting (dates posted at city website) and demand an anti tethering component to the ordinance. OR, send an e-mail to your local officials.
Time to subscribe to Brad’s SM Mercury. Hard hitting investigative news about so-called abused pets by the local authorities.
You are so right, Lila. Here’s the link:
Nicely done, Brad.
Ms. Shepard, when the good people of SM express outrage, you have done something well beyond the boundaries of human decency OR you want to develop land you rightfully own and have a legal right to build on. You, m’lady, are a monster. Please choke yourself–with my hand.
Way to pwn the troll Brad…..keep it up and I may subscribe after all 🙂
Wow! Look how many people read the Mercury! Who knew? BTW, Jack, I happen to know Brad serves on the board of Habitat for Humanity so even though you might not see the Mercury in the Platinum donor column at your next Cattle Barron’s Ball, good works are being done.
http://www.austinhumanesociety.org/article/austin-animal-laws Apaprently it’s illegal in all of Texas to leave your dog in a car when it’s too hot or cold.
Making the argument that “you’re talking about cruelty to animals so that means that you don’t care about poverty in San Marcos” is to commit a logical fallacy. The two causes are not mutually exclusive.
Plus, as I read it, Brad didn’t “write a story” here. He was sent a “letter to the editor” and he published it. It’s his site; that’s his right. In fact, it’s standard practice in many news publications and I personally welcome it.
One thing is for sure, it’s generated far more traffic than just another article where LMC can piss and moan about development……
I live in San Marcos.I have a dog.I wouldn’t leave it in the car in July.
However, I’m disgusted at the comments of every miserable self-righteous critic who vilifies the dog-owner.
She made a mistake. A bad one. She admits it.
Constructive criticism or even fair negative criticism should be expected.
But, telling her she shouldn’t be allowed animals or should choke is easy, when you’re an anonymous commenter.
I wonder how many ugly and nasty comments would be made if those people had to also post their full names and addresses.
Cruelty to animals isn’t a joke, and it’s not a “mistake”. She had MULTIPLE options to properly take care of her animals (as many people have outlined in this thread) and she ACTIVELY CHOSE to leave them in the car.
In her letter, she made darn sure to justify her actions in every way conceivable (I didn’t think it was that hot; I turned the air way up on the way there; I parked in the shade; it was only 30 minutes) and then she said she’s never coming to San Marcos again because of our rule (or rather, her ignorance of our rule, which happens to be a standard rule everywhere you go). She even made sure to let us know that she “wasn’t impressed” with our police officer’s “attitude or handling of the situation.”
Those don’t sound like the actions of a penitent person to me. In fact, her adamant justification of her actions makes me wonder just how many times she’s pulled stunts like this in the past and gotten away with it.
So yeah, I don’t think she should be allowed to have animals. And I think that she should have to sit in her car with the air off and the windows cracked for 30 minutes herself (wearing a fur coat, no less) to see what it feels like.
That may be too harsh for your taste, but that would be justice.
Sure, she made a mistake. She has only admitted the action, not that it was a mistake. She also flipped the bird to the whole community because she did not want to accept her responsibility. Her strongly worded letter falls flat. The first half is a pity-party mixed with rationalizing and the last half is a ‘shame on San Marcos’ for not letting her off the hook. Of course the cop was rude, she left her dogs in a car! Of course there was no warning, she left her dogs in a car. Of course she is going to have trash talked to her, she told off the whole town. How much support has she gained with her crusade against the crusade against animal cruelty? Forward your letter to PETA, they’re someone who could help you with this situation.
Dano, I agree that someone with strong opinions about animals in hot cars could also care about issues of human suffering — they are not mutually exclusive (just like someone who is generally against government regulation of housing could at the same time be okay with government policing of pet care). But Brad longed for the kind/level of outrage to be equivalent. Level of outrage could reasonably be measured by the number of comments or the seriousness of the tone. By either measure, the above commenters have a higher kind/level of outrage over animals in hot cars than human poverty. That is a fair observation.
Dano, i offered constructive action item. Nice try…troll.
If you are outraged by the letter, then take the time to contact your elected officials for a non tethering policy. Please help me understand the bright line between being stuck in a car and being stuck on a short chain in the heat with no water. Or in the winter with no shelter or water. Shudder the thought cities across the nation have a non tethering policy. Why not the fastest growing city in America?
Sorry but I would rather leave the car running with a/c on and get that ticket. She was wrong. Cars heat up fast and she is upset because she had to go find her dogs and pay. She is wrong though hopefully she will do some research and swallow her pride.
Realizing there is no defense for leaving dogs in cars alone, in July or ever, I appreciate learning a few things from these posts about pet safety and the law; for instance, in the Austin City Code about “(1) A peace officer or animal control officer may, after attempting to locate the animal’s owner…” Much trouble might have been avoided by a simple announcement in HEB and a friendly ticket. The SMPD could use a little positive and friendly public relations training and practice.
The degrading name calling is neither constructive nor appropriate. Inflammatory language detracts from the message, and I believe the worst and most offensive post has been removed.
I will take this opportunity to invite Ms. Shepard, family, dogs and everyone else to Petfest #11 (I think) on September 28, 2013, down by the riverside. This uniquely San Marcian event celebrates our pets and raises awareness and money to help people afford to spay, neuter and take care of our pets and feral cats.
Ms. Shepard made two ill-advised decisions, putting her pets at risk, and publishing her lack of common sense. I wonder if she expected a public outpouring of praise, or sympathy, or ….. what?
Lady, are you serious? You better watch out in New Baunfels because people in New Braunfels do the same thing. It doesn’t matter WHERE you are, you never EVER leave any living animal in a vehicle, doesn’t matter if you will be back in 15 minutes. Would you ever leave your child in the car? I don’t think so. Get over yourself. We don’t want people who thinks it’s okay to leave helpless animals in their vehicle in TEXAS during JULY in our towns anyways. Go somewhere else. You are NOT welcome here, and if I see your animals in your vehicle, without you in it, I will call the cops myself and watch them write you a ticket. It is ILLEGAL in Texas because us Texans actually care about the well being of our animals! Grow up, quit bitchin’ and take some responsibility!! You wouldn’t leave your kids in a vehicle under the same circumstance, so why would you leave your animals in there! People like you shouldn’t have animals!
Oh, Jennifer. The only sympathy I feel for you is because you lack common sense and empathy. You had many more formidable and humane options, but instead chose the dumbest of them all: leaving creatures who are wearing fur coats in a tinderbox during a Texas summer. Ever left your cool car for a sec to go in to a store and you come back and, what’s this? It’s hot again. It’s called the sun and it warms things quickly, especially metal, regardless of where you parked and how long you were gone for. Whomever wrote the ticket may have inconvenienced you, but they likely saved your dogs’ lives. And you should be grateful – if it had been me who has seen you flagrant display of inhumane, illogical, and unacceptable treatment, I would’ve straight up broken the window to free your dogs (which is permissible under the law in extreme cases) and met you in the parking lot later for a serious lecture. Next time, go to a drive thru. Oh, and you should probably never be a guardian to something, especially an animal, ever again.
even if you didn’t know it was a city ordinance, why would you think it’s OK to leave any living thing (person or animal) in a car and “not take longer than 30 minutes” at 330 during the hottest part of the day? I do think she’s looking for a bit of sympathy, otherwise she wouldn’t have written the letter…and as for the ‘warning’, any officer has discretion when writing a ticket to turn it in to a warning (with the exception of a few ‘traffic violations’, I believe)…it’s HIS/HER discretion NOT the discretion of the ‘offender’. Just because you don’t agree with the citation does not mean the officer is wrong. I would also be curious the hear the officers side. And let’s not forget that ignorance of the law is NOT a defense. If you think you were wronged, why not fight it? Get an attorney…in the end it’ll end up costing you more that the $414. Why not subject this same letter to the San Marcos Daily Record or Austin-American Statesman??? Lastly, what kind of example are you setting for your children? As Winnie the Pooh is famous for saying “Think. Think. Think.”
My question is ‘WARNING?? You need a WARNING??’ Ignorance is no excuse for the law. Would you need a sign somewhere when you went to another town that said, “No Murdering”, “Do Not Steal”, “No Burglarizing Allowed”?? I mean, seriously, the law enforcement Officer was working within the laws. It is YOUR responsibility as a citizen to know the laws of the land. Sad to think you would leave dogs in a idle car, in Texas, in July. I won’t even leave fresh veggies or fruit in my car while I ‘run’ into another store. Texas is hot more than 6 months each year.
No sympathy for this woman. She showed no common sense and no concern for the welfare of these digs. The car temp can rise to dangerous levels in just 5-10 minutes in this heat killing the dogs trapped in the oven. When I traveled from SC to TX to move here 7 years ago I had a 9 year old child and two dogs. During the two day 1200 mile drive in the heat of July, my dogs were never once left in a hot car. All meals came from a drive through and were eaten at roadside parks with dogs out with us on leashes. For quick potty stops, the car was left running with ac and locked. You make accomodations and protect your animals…even if it is inconvenient at times.
Jennifer Shepard made a terrible mistake. We all agree she made a bad mistake. If JENNIFER SHEPARD would admit her mistake, vow to change her ways, and ask for forgiveness from the community, would forgiveness be extended to her?
Of course we forgive. Just hope she learned a lesson and will pass it on when she sees other ignorant people leave their dog to bake in an oven.
I love San Marcos! Justice for pets and hard lessons for people who ignore the needs of them. Look, ignorance is not excuse. You do not leave dogs in cars in TEXAS, idiots.
Pay the fine, teach your children well- No excuses for ignorance.
Honestly, maybe you should have stuffed animals if you can’t figure out they are fragile, live creatures that don’t deserve cruel treatment.
While it’s obvious that one should not endanger pets, legislation against leaving animals (or humans!) unattended in hot vehicles is a relatively new development. So now ya know.
Everyone wants a warning….even the bad guys. The fact is laws or placed for a reason..not to get a mulligan on your first. Negligence is also in the law..the end
Its unfortunate for Ms. Shepard that she had to document her ignorance in such a public way. However, she has given us the opportunity for a great public education campaign. Please consider signing and forwarding the attached pledge:
Driving home and stopped for a bathroom break. Parked in the shade, with the windows cracked. Gone about 30 minutes.
In this weather, be sure to hold your palm on the pavement for 20-30 seconds, before deciding to take Fido for a walk, too.
You people are seriously whacked! Where were all of you when the baby in New Braunfels got left in the back seat because momma forgot about her child and went in to her work for 8 hours and came back and saw what she had done. Oh yes try to remember to put your purse or something that you would remember in the back with your child so not to forget there is a baby back there.
I’m a animal lover get teased about it all the time my husband should be as lucky as my horses and dog. I can’t get past all the twisted and hateful comments. We don’t want your kind in our town? Seriously are you one of those who lives in a falling down house that has a sign saying no trespassing? Who wants to come to a town with psychotic people in it? Almost everything that has been said on here is way worse that what she did. Do any of you know her? How do you know she hadn’t driven some where two days before with air blowing at 65 degrees for 30 minutes parked in a parking lot to see how long it would take before the car reached a certain degree to make sure the dogs would be ok. Though none of you have left your pets in a car in the heat. Sometime in your life you have screwed up. So let me be the first to call you out on the internet for others to read. Your a stupid idiot that is ate up with dumb ass for whatever stupid thing you have done in your life. Get in a car drunk? drive and text? I know that would have meant maybe causing harm or death to a human, but just remember their pets may have been traveling with them!!! By the way don’t stop in Seguin I hear their law is if a window is cracked it’s not against the law no matter how hot.
“Your a stupid idiot that is ate up with dumb ass for whatever stupid thing you have done in your life.”
I think that may make the Hall of Fame for unintentionally ironic commentary.
So it is Illegal to leave a car running in Texas when you go into a store, YET Cops leave cars running to catch people stealing cars…. hmmmmm Ironic don’t you think??
Just came across this article.
Dear Jennifer, outraged sounds about right in your case. You want your money back, and you won’t step foot in SM because you “should have been warned” about local oridances? Who is supposed to warn you? It’s called research. Research ordinances in strange towns you visit. You sound like you were trying to sugar coat your story to make it sound like you didn’t do anything wrong. Any way you spin it, you left your dogs in the heat. May not have been that hot to you, but, were you wearing a fur coat and incapable of sweating? Didn’t think so. I hope you learned something. It’s absurd to blame everyone for your mistake.
Are those dogs still alive today. Its been a year. Curious if you thought it was cool enough to leave them in the car again in another town.
You didn’t want to leave them outside in the heat you said. So, I guess it was pretty hot out then. You contradict yourself. I guarantee it is hotter inside a car than outside.
can we please put YOU in a car in TEXAS heat for 30 mins with no AC… if u wouldn tput ur kids in it don’t do it to ur pets… in Wichita u can go to jail and get a 40,000 fine… our tickets start at 500, so u got lucky with urs. and every 10 mins it increases… if they have to intervene or rescue the dog u go to jail!!! Welcome to texas where our pets are our family… but please if YOU see this is no problem… park ur car in this heat and sit in it for 30 mins with no ac…. id love to watch!
I know you probably love your animals but please never leave them in the car [this goes for children as well]. I think leaving either ANIMALS or CHILDREN in a hot car is ABSOLUTELY wrong.
One time in Pennsylvania it was about high 70’s out and by boyfriend needed to run into a gas station to go to the bathroom and grab some food while I stayed in the car [and he took the keys with him]. I forgot to ask him to roll down the windows. Within 10 minutes I had to get out of the car because I was so hot.
It is the law in Texas that animals may not be left in vehicles unattended. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.
what are you teaching your children about considering the ramifications of their actions. what if you had come back to dead dogs ? That would have been an expensive haunting lesson your children would remember the rest of their lives.
You should have known better.
I have to go to court next week for this same thing. I was in the HEB parking lot MARCH 2014. I also drove there to see my mom. I was leaving to return to New Orleans. I stopped at HEB to get treats for my two dogs. I was in the store for 15 mins. A “Concerned citizen” called the police. She went on to yell at me what would I have done if I had a child. I explained that children are allowed in HEB my fur babies are not.
I dont understand how I was to know
1-that it is a crime.
2- It was MARCH in Kyle, Texas
3- it wasnt hot!!
I drove the entire way home with out going to the bath room because I was scared of another “Concerned Citizen”
Very difficult traveling with pets. My mom needs to stop on her 1200 mile journey for bathroom and food. Has been doing this for over 10 years. Not every place she stops at has shade. Part of not letting them from the car is the fact that they could get loose and get hit by a car. So she keeps them in the car, windows down as low as possible, gives large amounts of water before and after the trip inside for food. She also has the dog shaved for summer to help with the heat. After several complaints, my mom only gets fast food on her trip. Its really difficult thoufh to do drive thru because the dog jumps on you while your eating even though its tethered to the back door. We do our best to take turns being in the car with the dogs at rest stops. One person will go to the bathroom while the other is at the car getting gas and then switching. Us humans do get anxious for a break after being on the road wanting to empty bladders and get food. Its not a perfext system.
Reading James Chiti comment almost made me want to throw up. The hatred and violence towards this woman is unbelievable. And honestly, I as a woman even felt hated by him. The unkind words, the finger pointing, the rage…omgsh…y’all went on and on!! How do you know that this woman didn’t GENUINELY think her dogs would be ok. Even if that was foolish or a mistake, you don’t know her motives. it wasn’t clear enough to be so hated on. I’m sorry for all this horrible comments you have received. And I bet half of them think it’s perfectly fine to rip a baby out of a human mother, just a guess.
I am confident you will never do that again, and now I too know this law. Thank You.
Well maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that about abortions. That makes me the “all knowing of ones motives” too. So I apologize for that. My point was, that so many people get outraged over the wrong things. Starving children, human sex trafficking, rape, child abuse and yes, even animal abuse!! These are the things that one should be focusing rants on. Now if this woman did this all the time and didn’t give a rip, then she would fall in the category of animal abuser.
Have a good week everyone.
Heather Taylor, If a person can do it once and see nothing wrong I can tell you that they will do it again or has done it before. I have two small dogs and I never have and never will leave then unattended in a car regardless of the temperature. If you can not treat or protect your pets like you would a family member then you do not deserve to have a pet. Because there is people that do not think about the danger or even care by saying it’s only a dog that laws have to be made to protect the animals.
The answer you seek of what to do when traveling with dogs in this situation is not hard to figure out. It’s simple. You do not leave your dogs in your car ever regardless of the temp outside. Had you run into a gas station convenience store and left the car on with the kids in it and parked where you could see them at all times, for a mere minute or 2 it would be reasonable of you. 30 mins or less is not the choice of responsible owner nor is cranking the AC so you could turn the car off for your own concern of it being stolen or the issue of wasting gas. If you have errands to do regardless of what or why, then you don’t take the dogs and have them in a boarding facility or someone watch them you trust while away. Not leaving indoor dogs out in a yard for ten hot days doesn’t make you a good owner by default, but it’s understandable you may need to make yourself look a bit better by adding that little scenario in. Indoor dogs are the way all dogs should have it but if indoor dogs aren’t meant to leave outdoors for 10 days, then how is it sensible that they can be left in the hot car? Your argument is weak. You screwed up and it’s your responsibility to know the laws where you decide to go. I’m pretty sure if you were too busy to take your dogs to drop off at your destination and then go shopping, you likely understand that officers don’t have free time to page you in a store and then gently explain a law to you and write you a warning so you can learn dog care basics and common sense. Since you see no issue in your actions look up about leaving dogs in cars and how fast they can die and in what temps this is common as you may be enlightened. Stop justifying and defending your actions that day and accept you were wrong. The fines were deserved and all you have shown in this is that you never educated yourself on proper dog safety and ownership and since the incident haven’t looked into why your choice put your dogs at risk. Sorry lady but no one is going to keep an eye on how long you’ve been parked there with them in your car and the officer who wrote your ticket wasn’t sitting around waiting for you for any other reason than to give you the ticket that coincided with your actions that day. Likely someone who saw your 2 dogs called to report it and really you might want to consider that the financial cost of this incident are fairly minimal compared to anguish you and your boys would have felt if you returned to find your dogs in distress from overheating or worse.
You said you would never leave your 10 and 14 year old boys alone in a running car in a strange city, yet leaving your dogs in a parked car that didn’t have the engine on in the same strange city was not an issue for you. How ironic that they appeared to be stolen once you returned. Perhaps if your car being left on is an issue to you than it might have also been ressonsble to be concerned that your dogs weren’t ever ok to leave in it period. From now on take your dogs to your destination, leave your boys with them to watch and then go to the store. If you feel you are still confused as to why this was not ok, go park in the shade at store and crack your windows. Then sit in there and see how quickly it’s uncomfortable. I’m sure it’ll be no where near 30 mins. I’m not sure where the disconnect is for you or why you are ok with your kids doing work that involves you driving them this far for so long but not ok leaving them to watch your dogs. Your thought process is very odd. You may have been a law abiding citizen (although it seems you probably have done this before) but you weren’t that day so blaming and holding a threat of shipping elsewhere is a desperate attempt. I think the city likely is ok with you staying away as you’ve probably been quite dramatic and obnoxious regarding all this given all you attempts to essentially place blame on anyone but yourself for your own actions and negligence. I’d suggest you call the police and ask for the laws regarding dogs left in cars in any city you plan to do so again.
Just wondering, I’m sure someone will have ugly things to say about me or to me, I’m expecting both. I have several German Shepperds, and live outside of San Antonio and there are times my dogs go into town with me, like vet visits and stuff to do after, rather than drive 30 mins back home and drive 30 mins back into town, I leave my truck running, Windows up, AC on and on Max when the dogs are with me. Could leave the Windows down, but someone sticks their hands in and if they get bite, well don’t want to deal with that. So I ignore the can’t leave the car running law. So the dogs are in a locked truck, running, AC on, on Max, what animal cruelty laws am I looking at, or fines for leaving my dogs in a truck, even though its not hot, inside ?
Any respectable pet owner knows better than to leave an unattended animal in the car for any period of time. Think about it this way: what if, goodness forbid, a lone owner walked into the grocery store and had a stroke, or other incapacitating emergency. What if they cannot communicate and need to stay in the hospital- how long will it be before their dogs are found? Parents prepare for worst case scenario, and any animal owner should apply this to their pets as well. Your son is 14, two short years away from being responsible as the operator of a vehicle on his own- and you don’t trust him to merely sit in the car alone? Especially if 30 minutes is such a short amount of time as you make it out to be.. Yes, take your younger son with you, but the other is a young adult who not only has common sense but probably a cell phone for safety. Animals are defenseless and cannot voice their needs.. this argument is nothing short of ludicrous.