Dallas Police Pass ‘Mankind’s True Moral Test,’ But Did They Get Carried Away Over Trapped Dogs?

The Czech novelist Milan Kundera, in his masterpiece The Unbearable Lightness of Being, writes:

True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power. Man­kind’s true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals.

Me, I find ridiculous what the Dallas Police did to retrieve two dogs from inside a locked car (paywalled story):

Danika Shipman said she checked the outside temperature on her phone. Because the day was mild, she and her husband felt comfortable leaving Copper, 2, and Penny, 6 months, in the car with the windows cracked. The pets had just been fed, she said.

They had heard that some dogs have been stolen from cars after the animals accidentally hit the electronic door lock. So they propped the back folding seats down slightly so Copper and Penny would be confined to the back of the 2011 Hyundai Sonata.

The dogs could still pop their heads out from behind the seats, Danika Shipman said.

Dallas police officer called John Shipman and told him to come outside, his wife said.

When he went to the parking lot, “it looked like a murder scene,” he said. Four police cars, a Dallas Fire-Rescue vehicle and an animal services truck were clustered around their car.

Someone had heard the dogs barking, Hill said, and, “after not seeing anything in the car, they decided that it must be coming from the trunk.”


  • Craigt

    Good for the cops. People who leave dogs in cars (even on cloudy 55 degree days) are self centered, cruel and/or exceedingly ignorant. They deserve the property damage.

  • RossG

    I was happy the fire department did it. If you are going to take your animals “everywhere you go” as the couple said, then you need to take them everywhere you go. It means making sacrifices if you choose to dine out. Too many animals die every year in parked cars. Too many children as well. While the temperature outside was fine, it would have been warmer in the car. Besides, it made for good practice for the upcoming summer.

  • GMOM

    Twas a slow day and the Chief probably said “Make it a training experience”. In other words make yourselves useful and get all that equipment out and see if it still works.

  • Rico

    Oh, please. There was zero risk for these dogs in that car on that day. There is no law against leaving your dog in your locked car. If outside conditions create a danger, then doing so may create exposure to animal cruelty charges, but those conditions simply did not exist on the day in question. RossG, what possible conditions would cause the temp in a locked car with a window rolled down for air, with outside temps in the 50s, to rise to a dangerous level? Nothing short of a nuclear explosion or a fire under the vehicle – acceptable risks to all but the craziest out there.

  • Melissa

    I saw this story on Channel 8 last night and while my first thought was just leave the dogs at home, the damamge to the trunk (!) was pretty severe. What does breaking into the trunk have to do with rescuing dogs inside the backseat? My seats only fold down with a key. Found it excessive…why not go around and maybe ask if anyone knows who the owner is? The man said he got a call on his cell phone from someone I think…surely the West End isn’t that crowded…

  • Melissa

    And obviously, Channel 8 didn’t provide the details the DMN did and I didn’t read the article! Thought it sounded odd when you could see two dogs in the backseat but break in through the trunk. The man even said something about breaking the window instead of prying the trunk open…

  • Irving Cares

    I also fully support the officers’ actions on this. Better safe than sorry, they couldnt know the intentions of someone who wasnt around to state them.

  • Bella

    My husband and I both have been known to go inside of grocery store to page the owner of a car with a dog inside on a 80+ degree day (once in the middle of July), so I agree with the sentiment – but 55 degrees out? Come on – even at it’s hottest it’s probably only 75 degrees inside the car, which is probably cooler than the house where the dogs would have been had they stayed at home.

    Children are another matter because they can cause more mischief – like actually getting out of the car, or take off the parking brake in a car with a manual transmission.

  • Sybils Beaver

    selfish and irresponsible, why take them with you if you plan to leave them in the car? Let them be at home, and yes the fire dept was a little overagressive in crow barring the trunk.

  • Meg

    “Man kind’s true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals.” I’m pretty sure Kundera is referring to “no matter what.”

  • Sport

    For once the cops did the right thing. The article explains that they couldn’t see the dogs, and that’s why they had to pry the back open. The owners need to leave the dogs at home, instead of in the car. They deserve to have a huge bill. Screw ’em. I’m proud of how the cops and fire dept. took action.

  • MS

    Right thing was done by PD and FD to make sure dogs were safe. However, the owners failed to mention one very important detail. Namely, the reason the trunk was broken into is that was where the dogs actually were, they were not in the back seat. They are lying because they want to sue the city and get money for the damage done to their vehicle. They don’t seem to realize if they just left their dogs at home, none of this happens.

  • poo-u

    The DOGS WERE IN THE TRUNK with the back seat open just a little for air flow The seat was not folded down.. IN THE TRUNK.. IN THE TRUNK. IN THE TRUNK, not in the back like she would make you think. It was the trunk, why did they call it the back. ??? NOT While owners are DRINKING LUNCH. Of Course Animal Control was concerned, that is their job. They may have been in there till midnight.
    Do not drop the charges, Do not pay for Auto. selfish and irresponsible is perfect description of this couple. They have no regard for human beings, only drinking and partying, why would it be any different. when it comes to dogs? Priorities Folks? Good for the citizens, Good For The Cops, Good For The Animal Control. Don’t be sorry ,you did the right thing.

  • Christy

    They didnt just drive from Pottsboro to Dallas for a birthday lunch.
    They were in Dallas all weekend with the dogs. Read all the reports:
    They checked out of their hotel saturday mid morning and was on their
    way to the next hotel and stop for a quick bite to eat meeting
    friends, one of which was a police officer himself. He saw the seat
    down and the DPD officers that were there on the scene know this! They
    know the fire dept messed up- it was not the police that did this.
    Read ALL the articles- it was the fire dept. But still, all in all the
    DPD continued to make it worse. The Shipmans were on their way to
    their next hotel thus having the dogs with them still spending their
    money in our city. I dont see anything wrong with what they did on a
    55 degree cloudy day. Ask the parking lot attendant when they left the
    lot. You know he remembers that girls tons of blonde curls.
    Furthermore the city is making the case for the Shipmans by claiming
    the dogs were locked in the trunk, when in fact they were not.
    REGARDLESS, The fact the city is claiming they were in the truck is
    proving they could have and should have broken a window out to
    “rescue” the dogs much faster and safer. Since they say the dogs were
    locked in the trunk then their full of u know what for saying they
    couldnt break a window for fear the glass would or could hurt the
    dogs. Mmmmmm waaaaait a minute Mr Fireman YOU said the dogs were in
    the trunk so how is it that they could get hurt with glass being broke
    IF they werent in the car? Proves their lying trying to cover their
    butts! They didn’t see the dogs is what the witnesses and the DFD are
    saying…. Their Yorkies are small- how do they know they werent under
    the seats? Then as if everything they did wasnt stupid enough they
    continued to use 2 police cars and 4 officers to guard the car they
    destroyed for over another hour and a half when the couple left the
    parking lot “because there were unsecure valuables in the car” But yet
    couldnt wait for them in the very beginning for a few? OR do some real
    police work to find them? Besides, How is it that when they (shipmans)
    left the dogs in their car for 20-30 minutes it was illegal and Cruel
    but the city takes them and puts them in their car for an hour and a
    half while they interrogate the man and its not illegal or cruel!!!
    Theyre going to burn up in the sonata but not in their car? What in
    the world! This is all just so ridiculous. Texas does not have a law
    against leaving pets in your car nor does the city of dallas have an
    ordnance against it. The states animal cruelty law says severe and
    extreme hot and humid temps or severe extreme or freezing temps or
    emanate danger. 55 degree cloudy day are none of these. SO since the
    DFD destroyed this car rescuing these dogs since DFD believed they
    were in such severe and emanate danger then DFD took both dogs to be
    seen by a vet right away to be checked out, right? Just to make sure
    they were ok since they were in such danger right??? RIGHT? I want to
    read that vet examination of them? Wait, you mean they didnt do that?
    They just took these poor abused dogs put them in their car for an
    hour and a half then drove them to the shelter and just threw them in
    cages??? WHAT????!!!!! Come on people!!! Are you serious? Then give
    them back the very next day with no questions asked! PLEASE DALLAS!
    Pay these people what their estimate says its going to cost to fix
    before they get an attorney sue for more AND WIN!!! Any scenario the
    city tries to spin it the Shipmans are going to win. They have a
    police officer as a witness and their vet is backing them 100%!

  • Ash

    Sorry Christy, some of your points don’t make much sense. Why would the FD break out a window to get to the dogs? They would logically use the most direct route, which is through the trunk. I haven’t seen it said anywhere that they didn’t want to break a window because the dogs could be harmed.