LARGO, FL (WFLA) — Jonathan Parris couldn’t believe what he saw in the parking lot of a Largo Target on Sunday; a chocolate Labrador suffocating in a sweltering truck parked at the Largo mall.
The poor pup was panting and panicked. Jonathan tells WFLA that the windows were barely open and that there were rain guards at the top of the glass, barring any type of airflow. The temperature Sunday was at an all-time high for December – 85 degrees. According to the SPCA, you add 20 degrees to that, which then reflects the actual temperature inside the vehicle. That would’ve made it 105 degrees.
Jonathan knew he had to act fast. He took cell phone video of the incident and was torn on how to proceed. Eyewitnesses told him that the dog had been there for nearly an hour. It was clearly in distress, he said. He tells WFLA he couldn’t take it, watching the innocent animal suffer, so he took a hammer and broke the glass, using a moving blanket to protect the dog from the shards.
“I’d do it all over again,” he said. “I think of a pet as a family member. I can’t believe someone would just walk away.”
Jonathan explained that he called police prior to breaking the glass. They told him it would be 45 minutes to an hour before they could get there. He knew he couldn’t wait that long. Meanwhile, the dog’s owner was reportedly inside Target shopping.
Jonathan was shocked at the reaction he got when the owner of the dog walked out of the store. Jonathan said, “This guy was mad because I broke his glass. He was worried about the window, not his dog.” By that time, a crowd had gathered, and they began yelling at the owner.
The Largo police officer who showed up to the scene let the dog’s owner off with a warning.
Meanwhile, Jonathan offered the man $50 to help pay for the glass. The owner, Jonathan claims, was angry because the window was going to cost $250 to fix. Jonathan told the man he would not pay more than that.
“I ended up giving him 50 bucks,” Jonathan said.
Right now, a bill is proposed in the Florida legislature that would protect bystanders from prosecution if they see an animal in distress and break a window to facilitate a rescue. The bill is still winding its way through the legislative channels in Tallahassee.
Jonathan received massive praise on social media after he posted the video to Facebook. He said, “I never thought I would get this much gratitude. People were so supportive, I thought they would be angry.”
So far, that video has been viewed more than 120,000 times in less than 24 hours. Hundreds of comments have poured in from supporters, telling him that they would have done the same thing. People praised him with posts including, “Thank you,” “you’re a hero,” and “I’m glad you took action.”