A Denver ACO named Jennifer Mooney was convicted of animal cruelty this week in connection with a July 2010 incident in which two dogs in her van suffered in the heat for hours. One dog died and the other was at the seizure stage which precedes death in cases of hyperthermia. The two charges of negligent animal cruelty are misdemeanors and Ms. Mooney could get up to two years in prison.
There was a thermometer in Ms. Mooney’s van but it monitored the temperature in the cab, not the temperature in the cargo area. The ACO’s attorney “blamed poor training, poor equipment and policies that he said require officers such as Mooney to cart animals around for hours rather than dropping them off at a shelter”. The prosecutor argued that Ms. Mooney had an obligation to check on the dogs in the back of her van during the six hour period she drove them around in the summer heat.
A commenter identifying himself as “Jon T” on the Denver Post website and claiming to have worked as an ACO in Denver for 5 years says, in part:
We were constantly told that we were not allowed to come in and drop off dogs on hot days, on cold days, didn’t matter. The bottom line was that we were told to keep driving around generating revenue for the city while the dogs in the back of the van were tossed about in one large compartment, all of the animals forced to be in the same cage together. By the end of the shift, the animals would come out of the vans covered in dog s***, shaking, vomiting, etc. The sergeants didn’t care, the administration didn’t care, because none of them ever had to face the owners of the animals.
Is there a culture of abuse at the Denver pound with ACOs being instructed to neglect the pets in their care or was the July 2010 incident an isolated occurrence? I contacted the Denver pound with some questions regarding their stray transport protocols yesterday but have not received a reply. If I do, I will update this post.