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Owners of dog left in hot SUV return hours later

The owners of a dog left inside an SUV during Toronto’s first heat wave of the year returned to their vehicle shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday, about five hours after concerned people began calling police about the pet.

The couple and two others didn’t speak and appeared stunned as they were met by reporters at their SUV in the parking lot of the Queens Quay Loblaws. They didn’t know that their dog had earlier been rescued from the Gardiner Expressway after it was freed from their locked car and broke away from its leash.

Toronto police Const. Matt Butt followed the brown dog named Parker on foot onto the Gardiner and leashed the dog again. He did not use a collar, instead slipping the leash around the dog’s neck “like a noose.”

“Being a K9 guy, dogs are like my partner. I wanted to do everything I could to make sure he got home safe,” he said.

The dramatic rescue unfolded after several concerned people phoned police about a dog locked in an SUV at the Queens Quay Loblaws shortly after noon on Thursday.

All the windows of the SUV were partially open. However, the city was in the midst of a heat wave and CityNews learned the owners purchased a parking ticket at 10:19 a.m. Barbara Steinhoff of the Toronto Humane Society explained that dogs can only tolerate extreme temperatures for a matter of minutes. Dogs, unlike humans, don’t sweat, she said.

Firefighters were able to open the car door and put a leash on the dog around 1 p.m. As the rescue crews brought a bucket of water toward the dog, it rolled, slipping off its collar and leash.

The dog then wandered up the Jarvis Street ramp to the Gardiner, where it roamed for several minutes, bringing traffic to a halt for half an hour.

“The dog is now safe in the back of a police car,” Const. Wendy Drummond said.

The dog was taken by the OSPCA to be examined before being released back to its owners under conditions which include getting the dog assessed by a vet and checking in with the OSPCA.

No charges have been laid but the investigation is still ongoing.

“Don’t put your animals in a vehicle. We’ve had 152 animal complaint calls this year so far and officers had to attend 61 of those,” Drummond said.

“It takes our officers away from other emergencies.”