UPDATE: I’ve posted a bit of an update to this whole situation in my post “And They Call it Puppy Love”
Well, ya’ll, it’s happened. I’ve become one of THOSE people. I had hoped this day would never come but here we are. I’m that guy.
You want to know something? I’m okay with it.
If you happen to follow my Twitter then you are probably up to speed with what happened yesterday while I was visiting Universal. The situation left me flabbergasted and honestly is still upsetting me even now. Hell, I just used the word flabbergasted, which should tell you something.
Okay- I’m writing this at 1am so be gentle on me but I wanted to get the details down before I forgot them but also wanted to be far enough away from the situation to not be over-emotional. I’m leaving out names because A) I don’t remember most of them and B) it’s not worth dragging extra people into this.
Yesterday afternoon I arrived at Universal where I was meeting some friends for the afternoon. When I parked and got out of my car, I noticed the car next to me had a dog locked in it. She was looking around so my best guess is that the people had recently parked and the dog was wondering why she was left in the car alone. I was wondering this as well. The windows were cracked but I was concerned.
I grabbed a parking attendant and let him know. His response was “oh dear.”
He asked me where the car was and I walked him down to it. He told me that because the windows were cracked, it wasn’t that hot and the dog wasn’t in distress, there was nothing to be done. This would become the company line for what’s to come.
I left trusting it would be dealt with but I wasn’t too sure. On my walk to the security check point I sent a tweet out to Universal voicing my concerns. I was surprised at the nearly instant response and was asked to DM information. I did but I still wasn’t satisfied. I ended up mentioning it to security and was told that they had been informed and they would “monitor the situation”.
I felt a little bit better after talking to security but still wasn’t sure. After ranting to my friends about it, I let it slip my mind so we could enjoy our evening.
The pupper re-entered my mind as we were walking back to the cars. I really hoped that the owners had just stopped in quick to do something and were long-gone. Still not great to leave a dog in a car in Florida but I was really trying to see the brighter side.
The car was still there. The dog was still there. I was pissed.
She was asleep but woke up when I approached the car and started talking to her. She was panting and obviously thirty and not happy. She was coughing and whimpering at me.
I tweeted and DM’d Universal again and was told that security was monitoring the situation.
We sat by the car for an hour and didn’t once see security. It has now been four hours since I had parked and I was beyond livid. I took pictures and posted them on Twitter. Really not something I thought I would ever do but I was pissed. I was beyond pissed.
I was advised to call the Orlando Police Department to report the car since it seemed like security wasn’t actually going to do anything. I called the police and was asked to wait by the car for an officer. He ended up coming from City Walk where there’s usually patrols. He honestly seemed more annoyed than anything about the whole situation.
He looked in the car at the dog, who was sleeping and shrugged at me. He shrugged. He freaking shrugged. Then there was that line again. The windows are cracked, it’s not that hot out and the dog doesn’t seem to be in distress. Without another word he walked away and that was it.
Didn’t take information from the car. Didn’t take our names. Didn’t do anything but shrug.
We prepared to wait it out until the owners arrived since it seemed like no one was going to do anything. Twitter was just as pissed off as I was.
Shortly after OPD walked away a security officer on a bike drove by, first time I had seen security since I went through the checkpoint four hours prior. She asked which car the dog was in. That single question pissed me off beyond belief because I am now fully under the impression that security hadn’t been there at all. She should have known. They all should have known.
She rode away without a word and returned moments later with a security supervisor.
He introduced himself to us- though I immediately forgot his name.
He looked in at the sleeping dog. Reminded us that the windows were cracked, it wasn’t that hot out and the dog wasn’t in distress. There was nothing to be done.
I couldn’t bring myself to look at either of them because I was so upset, I knew I was going to start crying. He agreed it was a crappy situation but there was nothing anyone could do. We were then told that we couldn’t hang around in the garage and would have to leave. His reasoning, “if there was a fire this level could fill with smoke in minutes.”
I have never been more confused in my entire life. For a solid ten minutes I wasn’t mad about the dog but had a lot of questions about his reasoning behind us needing to leave. Like, I still have a lot of questions. I am very confused.
We opted to walk back to City Walk and grab dinner since we were all starving but too upset to actually leave property. We settled in and ate. After about an hour we decided to head back to the cars to leave. The parks had closed so folks were heading back to their cars.
We got back to the lot to find the dog was still there. The officer on the bike was still around and lingered, mostly to keep an eye on us to make sure we weren’t hanging around. I assume because the garage was going up in flames at any moment and she didn’t want us trapped in all that smoke.
I decided I was going to leave a note on the car expressing my disgust at the owners. As I was getting prepared to jot down some kind words, we saw two people approaching. The owners had arrived. Adrenaline FLOODED my body and I was shaking with rage. I ran through a few choice things to say in my head.
The security biker approached them. I’m not sure what was said but the conversation lasted all of ten seconds and she rode away.
That was it.
I sat and shot daggers at the couple while they gave the dog the first water it had probably had in hours and then drove away.
A lot of people have asked why I didn’t say something to them. Better yet, why I hadn’t I confronted them and recorded it to post online and make viral. The reason is simple in that I’m not that kind of person. I could have said something. I could have ranted and raved but what on Earth would that have accomplished? And say it did go viral. Sure you get some 15 minutes of fame but think about my job, my book, my brand. What damage could I do to my own image for acting like that.
Instead I decided to do something.
Since getting home I’ve been researching the laws. Florida doesn’t specifically have a law about leaving animals in cars but Orange Country, where Universal is located, does. But it’s vague. Here’s the law:
“Orange County Code Sec 5-43 states it is against the law to leave a dog, cat, or other animal unattended in a parked vehicle with inadequate or no ventilation. The owner or keeper can face a civil fine for neglect of $257.00 in addition to criminal charges filed by law enforcement.”
The windows were cracked which supposedly is enough ventilation for OPD and Universal.
Other have asked why we didn’t just smash the windows and take the dog. Here’s why:
“Florida politicians passed a law in 2016 that allows bystanders to break the window of a vehicle to rescue a pet or vulnerable person believed to be in danger from the heat. Before taking that step, the bystander must have made sure the door wasn’t unlocked, contacted authorities and they must believe that the person or animal inside is in imminent danger. Signs of heat stress include panting, glazed eyes, unsteadiness and vomiting.”
Basically, since the police didn’t agree that the dog was in distress, had I broken the window, I would have been charged with vandalism.
So many people have reached out on Twitter especially those in areas where they have laws about this stuff. I’ve been researching and compiling information that I plan to take to my city officials here in Orlando and beyond if needed. We live in a state that gets hot and the weather is always unpredictable. We need better laws.
I’m also disappointed in the lack of reaction from the Police. They should have monitored the situation. They should have taken information. They should have been there to talk to the owners. But they shrugged and walked away.
Hell, I would have been satisfied if the security supervisor had been there to talk to them.
I would have been satisfied with anything more than I got which was nothing but disappointment.
So there you have it world. That was my day.
I’m sorry this isn’t a fun and uplifting post. I promise this isn’t the last you will hear of this. I’m mad and I plan on doing something about it. And I will.
I want to feel bad for my blasting Universal on social media but while I’m sure they have their policies, I feel like not enough was done and we were treated like more of an inconvenience to them than anything. Maybe everyone needs a fire lit under their butts for some action to be taken and policies made and improved.