Skip to main content

VC boss shamed in online video for leaving dog in hot car

The image shows a dog inside a parked car, with its mouth open and looking outside the window. Inset is a black and white portrait of a smiling woman with dark hair.
A still of video uploaded to the Citizen app shows a small dog sitting inside the car of Walden International Vice President Joana Tieu, inset. | Source: Courtesy Citizen

A venture capitalist has spoken out after being confronted by an angry crowd and shamed on social media for leaving her pooch in a hot car Tuesday.

The temperature was high and so were the crowd’s tempers just after 3:30 p.m. when it reached 73 degrees on Bush Street in Nob Hill, according to the National Weather Service. 

It’s a scene that unfolds every summer in cities across America, but in San Francisco, where dogs outnumber children, expect a fierce backlash at the sight of any pup in distress. 

Video captured by a pedestrian and uploaded to the Citizen app shows a small dog sitting inside a car with cracked windows on a sunny day on Bush Street in Lower Nob Hill. | Source: Courtesy Citizen

In this case, the dog survived. But its owner, Joana Tieu, vice president at Walden International, a tech and semiconductor investment firm, had some choice words for the angry mob that broadcast footage of her returning to her vehicle on the Citizen crime reporting app.

Reached by phone, Tieu declined to confirm that she works at Walden. But DMV records list her as the car’s only owner, and public records link her name to the phone number she answered and a Walden email address.

“They probably should focus attention on the things that they need to be focused on, such as homeless people sleeping on the street,” Tieu told The Standard when reached by phone Wednesday.

The video shows a dog barking in the passenger seat of a Lexus sedan with at least two windows cracked open.

A crowd, some with dogs, gathered. In the clip, the citizen user can be heard saying, “We’re going to shame them publicly.”

When the owner returns, an onlooker curses at her. 

“You left your dog in this car for over a half-hour in this heat! Shame on you! You are a shitty dog owner! You’re an animal abuser,” yelled one woman who had two leashed dogs in tow.

Tieu said Wednesday that the mob was rude and that her dog was fine. He was in the car—with the windows cracked—because she was at a doctor’s appointment that took longer than expected and she simply must take him everywhere. 

“He cannot be by himself because he gets miserable,” Tieu said by phone while refusing to divulge the dog’s name. “He’s not used to it.”

“I have no one to watch over him,” she added. “I have to take him with me.” 

Safe to leave a dog in a hot car with the windows cracked?

Still, leaving a dog unattended in a car is dangerous, even if the windows are open. A Humane Society post on pet safety says that at 72 degrees, the temperature inside a car can rise to 116 degrees within an hour.

“Rolling down the windows has been shown to have little effect on the temperature inside a car,” the Humane Society post said.

Tieu could be at risk for penalties, according to guidelines from the city’s Animal Care and Control and the California DMV handbook

“It is dangerous and illegal to leave children or animals in a hot vehicle,” the DMV guide states.

Animal Care and Control said they didn’t respond to Bush Street on Tuesday but do pull dogs from vehicles where necessary. In extreme cases, pets locked in vehicles can be elevated to criminal animal cruelty investigations.

An unidentified woman attempts to sell weed to the person filming the dog in a hot car on Bush Street. | Source: Courtesy Citizen

Ironically, the person posting the video revealed some other shady activity going on the scene. While the camera points at the dog, the man filming is heard conversing with a woman who is trying to sell marijuana.

“Do you need some weed?” she asks. “I got some.”

“Are you trying to sell me some,” he replies. 

“Yeah, if you want to,” she answers.