Actress under fire for leaving dog in SUV

Jennifer Beals

VANCOUVER – Actress Jennifer Beals is defending herself as a loving and “discerning” dog owner after she was captured by a TV reporter briefly leaving her dog inside a vehicle on a warm day.

A Global News reporter in West Vancouver filmed the Golden Globe-nominated “Flashdance” star returning to her Ford Escape on Wednesday, showing her large dog inside with the windows partially opened.

As she got back to her vehicle, a passerby confronted her and the 51-year-old actress replied: “It’s fine. Thank you.”

The stranger told Beals that he would be informing the authorities regardless.

“I have loved dogs my whole life. They’ve been in my life since the day I was born. Every dog I’ve had has been a rescue. I would never ever jeopardize an animal’s safety. Ever,” Beals said Thursday, in a statement provided by her publicist.

Beals said it was a “cool” 23 C in the well-heeled neighbourhood and noted she and others were wearing jackets.

She said she rolled all four windows down and left the car “for five minutes” to pick up laundry. Her car was visible to her the entire time, she said.

“I wondered why two people were congregated by my car taking pictures of my girl,” she said. “Proud mama thought it was because she’s so gorgeous.

“While I appreciate their vigilance and what must have felt like courage on their part, they were barking up the wrong tree.”

Marcie Moriarty, with the BC SPCA, said the animal welfare organization is not investigating Beals in relation to the incident. The organization has the authority to enforce laws relating to animal cruelty and to recommend charges to the provincial Crown.

She said that after watching the news clip she would disagree the windows were rolled down sufficiently, and also believes the temperature was warm.

“I think this is an education opportunity. I don’t doubt she loves her dog and I very much appreciate her comments around caring for her animals,” Moriarty said.

“She probably shouldn’t have been running her dry cleaning errands with her dogs in the car.”

The SPCA gets hundreds of calls about animals locked in hot cars each summer, Moriarty added. The concern is that dogs don’t cool themselves in the same ways as humans. An animal could become endangered within 10 minutes if an owner suddenly gets caught up in their chores, she said.

Beals’s publicist also supplied an endorsement from a Los Angeles area dog trainer.

Laura London said she can “say with confidence” that Beals “never put her beautiful dog in danger.”

“Jennifer is one of the more savvy and committed dog owners I have ever worked with,” she said. “She has a hard-wired intuition that most owners do not.”

Beals starred in “The L Word” and is married to Canadian Ken Dixon.

She recently shot the TNT series “Proof” in Vancouver. She reportedly has upcoming roles in the drama “Manhattan Nocturne,” alongside Yvonne Strahovski and Adrien Brody, and the Steve Anderson thriller “The White Orchid.”