On September 1, ACOs employed by Upper Darby Township in Delaware Co, PA delivered two dogs and one cat to the Chester County SPCA. All three pets were suffering from symptoms related to excessive heat after riding in the back of the AC van which has no air conditioning or ventilation. The temperature that day was 94 degrees. Two of the animals were treated and saved. The dog who had been in the van the longest, about two hours, was too far gone to respond to treatment. Chester Co SPCA executive director Adam Lamb issued a press release regarding the incident:
The dog, later named “Baby Blue” by the staff because he was a blue pit bull, was “… listless, his pupils were unresponsive to light, he was panting for air, and he was bleeding from his rectum.”
Lamb said the dog was immediately brought into the shelter and was examined by medical staff, which started treatment for what was likely heat stroke. The dog’s temperature was 107 degrees Fahrenheit before the thermometer indicated that the rising temperature was too high to read.
Baby Blue had been left in the hot van without so much as an ounce of water, to suffer and die a horrible, entirely preventable death while the ACOs sat up front enjoying the air conditioning. An assistant DA with Chester Co is reviewing the case for possible cruelty charges:
The manner in which the dog was transported to the shelter facility was cruel and inhumane, Lamb said.
“Everyone must be held to the same standards with respect to the humane treatment of animals, including those providing animal control services,” said Lamb.
As a result of the incident, Chester County SPCA officials said they will stop accepting stray animals from Upper Darby Township until the shelter has inspected and approved of the vehicles being used to transport animals to their facility.
Thomas Judge Jr., the township’s chief administrative officer, concedes that the pets were stuck in the back of the hot van but is not willing to make the giant leap to associating Baby Blue’s death with heatstroke. And he’s got reasons!
The animal had problems when we picked it up. It was tied to a post in the area of St. Laurence. We don’t know who it belongs to.
And the two other animals in the van survived.
Judge noted the township has been operating with only one van because one of the two animal transport vans was out of service. A new van with air conditioning with individual cages in the back is on order.
There is no law that says we have to have air conditioning in the back of the van.
Everyone knows if you find a dog tied to a post, he’s probably going to fall over dead within a couple of hours regardless of whether you leave him in an unventilated metal box in the summer heat. It’s just like, a thing that happens. And how about a little credit for not killing the other two? Plus who is this mysterious owner? I mean, that is also very relevant. Anyway one van is out of service and another one’s on order so *shrug*. And there isn’t any law that specifies our ACOs have to share their air conditioning with animals or even provide them with a survivable environment for two hours. Is there? But hey, we’re not monsters:
We are going to drill holes in the back of the van to have air-conditioning in the back.
They’re going to make air holes for the pets. Because they killed one. Maybe I’m naive but I thought this was a lesson we all learned when we were kids catching fireflies in jars. (My dad always poked holes in the metal lids for my caterpillars and other temporary pets.) Or if you didn’t learn it then, I would have thought maybe ANY OTHER TIME BEFORE YOU GOT CERTIFIED AS AN ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER. Apparently an air hole law is needed in PA.
(Thank you Clarice for the link.)