London

London shops open their doors to furry friends to avoid heat

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is pushing for its fifth annual No Hot Pets campaign, encouraging businesses to spread awareness about the dangers of leaving pets inside unattended cars.

Seven London stores have already taken the pledge.

Reece drinking from a bowel at A Village Tail, one of seven London shops that have pledged against leaving pets inside unattended cars during summer months. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Reece isn't exactly a regular shopper.

The chocolate Labrador retriever can be seen browsing through store aisles and getting on her hind legs at the checkout.

"I would never leave her in the car," said Margot James, mother to the four-legged rescue dog. "It's way too hot."

James regularly visits A Village Tale, one of about seven stores in London with signs hanging from their doors that read, "Your pets are welcome inside. No excuses, no hot pets."

The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is pushing its fifth annual No Hot Pets campaign, encouraging businesses to spread awareness about the dangers of leaving pets inside unattended cars.

More than 250 businesses in Ontario have already signed up for the program, running from May till August.

Leo Kniivila works at A Village Tale, one of seven London shops that are inviting pet owners in along with their pets during hot summer days. The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is pushing its fifth annual No Hot Pets campaign. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Leo Kniivila has been greeting furry friends at the Wortley Village pet store for a year and a half. Although A Village Tale has always welcomed pets, Kniivila said he hopes the pledge will encourage other businesses to sign up.

"The worst thing that's going to happen is that maybe an old dog is sick or their tail may knock over something on the counter," he said "That's not much of a hassle and if it means saving a life, then why not."

Kniivila wants to see the campaign spread across London except for grocery stores that sell produce and food.

Although Menna Abdou agrees pets shouldn't be left in cars, she finds the campaign unnerving.

"I get so nervous around dogs," she said. "I wouldn't want to go into a store because I'm scared of them."

However, Janet Frood wouldn't risk putting her three year old Piper in jeopardy. She wants to take the soft-coated wheaten terrier wherever she goes.

"I take my dog with me to work sometimes and to know there are retailers that I could go and my pet would be welcomed into the store is amazing."

Brian Nash, owner of Nash Jewellers, supports The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' annual No Hot Pets campaign, encouraging businesses to spread awareness about the dangers of leaving pets inside unattended cars. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Come one, come all 

London's long-time Nash Jewellers has also pledged to invite pets into its luxury jewelry shop.

Brian Nash, store owner of the Wonderland at Oxford shop, has observed an increase in foot traffic after putting up the campaign sign.

"This allows customers to do their running around and feel comfortable even coming into a nice jewellery store and getting dogs out of the cars," he said. "The animals aren't going to cause any trouble and we don't have any carpet on the ground."

The store has been using social media as a tool to spread awareness of their involvement with the campaign.

But, "people aren't getting the message," said Brandon James, inspector with Ontario SPCA.

James said it's unfortunate that the association has to regularly remind people to exercise caution when travelling with pets.

However, he's hoping people will be encouraged with businesses on board.

"It alleviates the customer's choice," he said. ""It may draw those customers that are more anxious not to leave animals in the vehicle."

Several challenges continue for businesses surrounding customer concerns over liability, safety and comfort.

Pet owners could be charged under the OSPCA act if pets are left in vehicles under extreme temperatures causing distress. The act allows for fines of up $60,000 dollars, two years in prison and a lifetime ownership ban of animals.

London stores who have pledged support:

  • Accents Flag Co.
  • A Village Tail
  • Dance Happy Dancewear
  • Goodwill Bookstore
  • Leavens Volkwagen
  • Nash Jewellers
  • Urban Barn 

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