CHICAGO — A Yorkie left alone in a swelteringly hot, locked Lexus in the parking lot of the Lincoln Park Costco was rescued by three people.
The owner was gone for at least 45 minutes as the tiny panting dog tried to escape the sun by hiding near the floor Friday. Temperatures were dangerously hot in Chicago Friday, causing the National Weather Service to warn people not to leave kids or pets in cars.
Oliver Sarmiento, of Belmont Cragin, and his wife, Maggie Kaminska, saw the Yorkie in the parking lot of a Costco, 2746 N. Clybourn Ave., at about 12:40 p.m. Friday.
Kaminska told a store manager, Amanda Degard, about the dog and Degard came outside to help them with the pooch.
The three waited to see if the dog’s owner would return, but after about five minutes they called police, Sarmiento and Degard said. They decided not to break the car’s window or try to get into the car unless the dog’s condition worsened.
The three waited anxiously. It was in the 90s outside, but the car had a dark, leather interior and the dog had long hair, all things that the trio worried could make the dog feel even hotter, Degard said.
The windows were cracked open, so the three tried to pour water through the gap and get it to the dog, but the only dish was in direct sunlight in the back of the car and the dog wouldn’t go there, Degard said.
The pup, who had no visible name tag, started “panting … visibly harder and louder” about five minutes before police arrived, Kaminska said.
The police arrived after about 30 minutes, and the officer told the three they could get into the car to rescue the dog, Degard said. Degard and Kaminska reached their arms into the gaps in the windows to unlock the car doors from the inside, then carefully got the dog and brought him to the officer.
The dog wouldn’t drink and was panting heavily, Degard said. She poured a water bottle over him and the group rubbed his paws with alcohol wipes, which they read could help. They also put him into the back of the police car so he’d be in the air conditioning.
Degard was “definitely very concerned about him,” she said.
“I am a dog mother. I have my puppies, I have my dogs,” said Degard, who owns 11-year-old Boston terrier Buehrle and 7-month-old mix Bailey. “I told [Sarmiento and Kaminska], ‘You got the right girl because I’m not going to walk away until something happens.'”
The dog was in the car for at least 45 minutes from the time Degard came outside to the time they were able to get it out of the car with permission police.
The owner of the dog eventually came out from the Costco, where she had bought two rotisserie chickens, Kaminska said.
When the owner saw the dog rescuers, she asked them how the dog got out of the car, Degard said.
“Who knows how long the dog was actually in the car before [we arrived], though,” Kaminska said. “She said, ‘Well, thank you for being so thoughtful.’ I told her, ‘Well, your dog [was] hot and you were trying to kill him.'”
The police officers told Degard, Sarmiento and Kaminska they no longer needed to stay, and the three left.
But Degard said she’s concerned other dog owners who might not understand the seriousness of the heat might leave their dogs in closed cars this weekend.
“I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s going to happen again,” Degard said. “We were all definitely really concerned, and I can’t thank those members enough. They stayed out there with me the entire time.”
As of 2:15 p.m. Friday, temperatures had topped out as 94 degrees, said Charles Mott, a National Weather Service meteorologist. He estimated that, at that temperature, a car could get hot enough to be deadly for a child or pet within 20 minutes — and cracking the windows doesn’t make the vehicle safe.
“You shouldn’t have a child or a pet in the car at all,” Mott said. “… If it’s your dog, or if it’s your child, do you want to take that chance?”
Police said no citations were issued.