Dog Dies After Being Left in Hot Van by ACOs in PA

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.)

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8 Comments

  1. sarahjaneb

     /  September 24, 2015

    /Huh what? So applying this logic, if three people are in a house fire and all three show signs/symptoms of and are treated for smoke inhalation but only one dies, that person didn’t die from smoke inhalation caused by the fire? They must have already “had problems” that caused the death?

    Reply
  2. Robert Berke

     /  September 24, 2015

    I believe in the desth
    Penalty for all abusers. Dont want em- dont need them. Drop dead!

    Reply
  3. No ventilation. How the hell in this day and age is a vehicle INTENDED TO TRANSPORT ANIMALS permitted on the road with no ventilation? This isn’t 1927, folks.

    As for the ACO not even bothering to water a dog they’re locking in a metal box for two hours…damn. How does a human being do that?

    As for the CAO – really, dude? There’s no law that says you have to be a decent human being with some kind of empathy, either, but you know what? It’s a seriously good idea. Just like there’s no law that says you have to wipe your ass when you’re done in the toilet, but honestly – it’s a good idea. Stop looking for laws and start looking for accountability and common sense. If you’re not finding it in your county, I suggest you outsource.

    Reply
  4. This is totally unacceptable and the CAO should be fired! He didn’t care, nor have the common sense to protect the animals in his van! Animals have rights and too many people are lax in the care of animals! I say strike one, you’re out!

    Reply
  5. Kittypurr

     /  September 28, 2015

    Excellent example of how the systems we have set up in America, law enforcement, courts, etc, are there to protect the government. Not the people or their property.

    Reply
  6. Beached Paws

     /  September 28, 2015

    Were the ACo’s charged with neglect and cruelty???? Were they not trained to recognixe distress in an animal. If the animal was distressed (after being tied up), why didn’t they transport to the nearest veterinary clinic? Two of the animals were also treated and saved. So blaming this dogs death on it being tied up is a poor, passing the buck excuse is lame. “There is no law that says we have to have air conditioning in the back of the van.” ???? But there are laws against animal cruelty and neglect, why were these ACO’s not charged???

    Reply
  7. Nancy

     /  September 29, 2015

    I live in and do rescue work in this township. It’s long been known that AC in UD and most of the politicians don’t give a rat’s a** about these animals. Cudos to Chester County SPCA for Stepping up on so many occasions. This township is in dire need of ACO’s that care about these animals and are willing to work hand in hand with those of us in rescue rather than fight us at every turn when we reach out. I hope the publicity behind this dogs death brings much needed change. I hope I get to meet this guy at the rainbow bridge.

    Okay, deep breath. Thank you for some space to vent.

    Reply
  8. simba

     /  October 6, 2015

    Ventilation= air conditioning? Huh?

    Reply

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