Shamed Owner Dies by Suicide After Dog’s Death In Hot Car

Does Internet shaming go too far?

By Justyne Yuen-Lee

calgaryhumanesociety

Credit: Facebook / Calgary Humane Society


Taking a quick scroll through my various social media feeds, I see a lot of funny things, interesting things, and infuriating things. The most infuriating subject, for me, is animal abuse; it sparks a rage that makes me wish negative consequences to the guilty human.  A trend on the Internet is to take that outrage and engage in a mob-mentality public shaming. If the issue is particularly hot-button, these threads will become borderline harassment and a lot of emotional damage can be done in a post that contains less than 280 characters.

ontariopdtwitter

Credit: Twitter / @ontariopd

Sometimes good things come out of viral outrage, for example, a video of a young boy throwing a kitten into oncoming traffic went viral on Twitter and resulted in the notification of police. The minor was swiftly identified and dealt with accordingly.

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Credit: Facebook / Jeremy Quaile via CBC


However, when Jeremy Quaile’s dog was found dead in a hot car in Calgary, Alberta, the Internet shaming had devastating consequences. Five months after the accident, Quaile took his own life.

Quaile struggled with alcoholism and stated he had no recollection of how Knightley ended up in the car. According to his mother, Quaile loved Knightley with all of his heart. Jeremy Quaile had fallen on difficult times recently, losing his job and engaging in binge drinking that would often result in him losing track of Knightley.

knightley-jeremy

Credit: Facebook / Jeremy Quaile via CBC

Jeremy was charged under Calgary’ Animal Protection act with the offense of causing an animal distress.  The Humane Society posted a press release about this charge on Facebook.

The Facebook post (now deleted) garnered a mass of comments – mostly negative. Online strangers made comments saying that Quaile didn’t deserve to live or should also be locked in a hot car and left to suffocate.


Quaile made attempts to tell his side of his story, responding to comments saying that he didn’t know how she ended up in the car. But he couldn’t respond to the rapid influx and eventually, he gave up. Five months after the charge, Quaile had passed away.

Every unexpected death is a tragedy. And bullying another human being into a state of hopelessness is an ongoing problem on the Internet. In an average day, I see at least three posts dealing with vigilante rage targeting negligent pet owners.

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Credit: Facebook / LADbible

A video of a woman abandoning her dogs on the street went viral on an influencer’s page. Just as with Quaile, the Internet quickly demanded her head on a spike.

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Credit: Facebook / Stephanie Lynn Hoops

Another post, including photos of a woman kicking her dog in Toronto, Canada went viral with similar result. This time, however, comments were “just” suggesting violence rather than outright death.

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Credit: CBC / Robson Fletcher

As awful as these animal abuse stories are, we still have the responsibility of trying to comprehend the entire scenario. The woman who was caught kicking her dog, according to one of the comments, was believed to be drunk. Perhaps she also had a mental health issue or substance abuse problem, as was the case with Jeremy Quaile.

This is not to excuse abusive behavior toward animals, but a call to exercise caution and empathy when it comes to posting on the Internet. Consider volunteering with, or donating to, your local animal shelter to help rescue vulnerable animals trapped in unstable situations.