Educating the public on the dangers of transporting pets unsecured in the back of pickup trucks has been the bright side of an otherwise sad story about an injured pup named Chilli in Williams Lake.
“That in itself is a great outcome from a horrific situation,” said BC SPCA Williams Lake branch manager Liz Dighton, who fielded calls all day Tuesday after releasing details of the incident.
Chilli is a German Shepherd-mixed puppy who was in the back of her owner’s pickup truck in early October when she jumped out and was caught under the vehicle.
Severely injured, Dighton said the owners rushed the seven-month-old puppy to the local SPCA shelter to see if they could save her.
“That was their decision to surrender her to us to give her the best chance to live,” Dighton said, noting the owners knew the vet costs would be more than they could afford.
“These owners were so devastated, but they knew we were their best chance to get Chilli the medical attention she needed.”
Chilli was rushed to the vet and underwent surgery to remove her badly injured front leg. She has been recovering with a foster family ever since.
“She’s amazing. She’s such a sweet dog,” Dighton said. “It took her about three days to find her balance but now she’s great. She’s just a big, overgrown puppy who wants to sit on your lap.”
When asked if or when Chilli would be available for adoption, Dighton said she is likely in a situation they call a “failed foster.”
“It happens,” she said of the foster family who have grown attached to Chilli. “We don’t know for sure yet but she’s sleeping with them so that’s usually a sign … it’s a perfect home for her should they decide to keep her.”
Dighton said she understands why the public expresses anger toward pet owners in these situations, however, she also pointed out it is a fairly common occurrence in the Cariboo region to transport pets in the back of pickup trucks.
“Here it’s almost normal but that doesn’t mean it’s right.”
It is actually illegal under Section 72 of the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act and Section 9.3 of the B.C. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to transport an unsecured pet in the back of a pickup truck, Dighton said. If a pet must be transported in the back of a truck the safest method is to keep them inside a secured crate in the centre of the truck box.
“A lot of people weren’t really aware of the law,” she said of the education and conversation Chilli’s story has started.
Now that they know better, Chilli’s former owners are going to be pushing for change in their own community, Dighton said.
“They were just unaware of the dangers but now they know and are going to educate others.”