An Auckland tow truck driver placed two guide dogs under "dangerous and frightening" conditions by attempting to tow a car they were inside, the Blind Foundation claims.
A charity worker had parked the vehicle outside an old unused New World in Papakura on Monday afternoon, and left the boot open to ensure that the guide dogs had enough fresh air.
The Blind Foundation says the member of staff was "genuinely unaware of the parking policy" due to the "lack of visible parking signage".
When she returned, she saw a tow truck moments away from removing the car with the dogs now locked inside without fresh air.
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The Blind Foundation says that the "purpose-built car had been left with the boot up to provide air for the dogs, which is standard practice for the Guide Dogs team, and the towing contractor had closed the boot to place the vehicle on his truck".
The Blind Foundation says that this was a "dangerous and frightening" behaviour, as dogs are unable to regulate their temperature like humans can.
They rely on panting to cool down and the Blind Foundation says that this makes "proper ventilation extremely important".
The charity worker was ordered to pay $100 to the towing company in order to unlock the car, a witness told NZME. The Blind Foundation says the car was released, and the guide dogs were unharmed.
According to the Blind Foundation, the tow company's policy about vehicles containing animals is to contact Animal Control once the vehicle has been towed to the yard.
The Blind Foundation has said that this practice is "very disappointing".
The towing company could not be reached for comment.