anne_mikolay_120Pet owners will tell you never to leave your dog alone in a car, especially during the summer when the temperature inside the vehicle can rise in excess of 100 degrees. Before I decide to take my pup with me while I am driving around running errands, I consider my destination. Is the dog allowed in the store? Is he permitted in the bank? If not, I leave him home. There's no debating the fact that he is better off at home than sitting, panting, in a car waiting for me. It's that simple.

Imagine my shock, then, when I heard that a Lakewood man has been charged with child neglect after leaving his nine month old son in a car for more than an hour. His son. Not his dog. His son. The man reportedly forgot to drop his child off at a daycare center on his way to work. The baby was left in the car, forgotten, suffering heat that soared to 119 degrees inside, until his mother called to find out why the baby had not been dropped off at daycare. At that point, the father remembered the child, ran to the car, and found his son unconscious. The little one was rushed to the hospital, and thankfully, survived.

I can't wrap my head around this one. What was the father thinking? Obviously, he wasn't thinking at all. I wouldn't leave my dog in the car for five minutes...and certainly never my child.

We all have a lot on our plate these days and are often distracted. I walk into a room and forget why I went in there in the first place. I've locked my car keys and my purse in my car. We all do things like that...but leave a child in a car on a sweltering day (or any day)? That's like sticking the helpless baby in an oven.

The father involved in this incident of child neglect – and that's what it was – must have had some very pressing issues on his mind to forget the existence of his own flesh and blood. Thank God for the daycare worker who contacted the child's mother to ask why the baby had not been dropped off as scheduled. Had this alert individual not gone the extra mile to inquire about one of her charges, this would be a column of a very different sort.

Folks, if you have babies, please do not leave them alone in a car for any length of time. It only takes a few minutes to unstrap the baby from the car seat; take the child with you! This is easier said than done, of course, for parents of more than one baby. In that case, leave the children at home. Figure something out! Put the health of the helpless little ones before your own comfort and convenience.

A hot, summer day can quickly transform the interior of a motor vehicle into an instrument of death. Please think of that before you leave your precious child (or your pets) inside a car for any length of time.