Tuesday, August 3, 2010

One of 2 dogs left sealed in rear of pickup truck outside Holyoke mall has died

HOLYOKE - One of two dogs left unattended in the enclosed bed of a pickup truck for about two hours outside the Holyoke Mall Sunday has died.

Pam Peebles, executive director for the Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control and Adoption Center in Springfield, said the dog, a 5-year-old male yellow Labrador retriever named Jasper, died about 4 a.m. Monday morning at Boston Road Animal Hospital in Springfield.

Peebles said she believes the cause of the dog’s death was cardiac arrest as a result of heat stroke.

The smaller dog, Morgi, an 8-year-old chihuahua-corgie mix, has recovered and was returned to its family.

Peebles said larger dogs can be more susceptible to the heat.

The decision to release the surviving dog back to the family was made jointly by Holyoke Animal Control Office Donald Tryon and personnel at the Thomas J. O’Connor, Peebles said.

“They aren’t bad people,” Peebles said of the owners. “They did something really stupid and are they are pretty devastated.”

The family had rescued the dogs when their previous owners had no longer been able to care for them and they had been well-cared for prior to the tragedy on Sunday, Peebles said.

One of the owners, Robert Dufresne, of 392 Amostown Road, West Springfield, was charged with two counts of cruelty to animals, police said.

Dufresne was arraigned Monday in Holyoke District Court. Innocent pleas were entered on his behalf and he was released on his own recognizance. The case was continued until Sept. 23.

Cruelty to animals is a felony with a maximum penalty of five years in state prison, Police Lt. Manny J. Febo said.

Police Chief Anthony R. Scott said it would be up the Hampden District Attorney’s office as to whether or not one of the cruelty to animals charges would be upgraded given the dog’s death.

Hampden District Attorney William M. Bennett could not be immediately reached for comment.


After seeing this story, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sent the following tips for keeping animals safe in hot weather and during travel. PETA notes that on a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a car parked in the shade is 90 degrees -- and the inside of a car parked in the sun can reach 160 degrees in a matter of minutes.

Keep dogs inside: Unlike humans, dogs can only sweat through their footpads and cool themselves by panting. Soaring temperatures can cause heat stress and be physically damaging or fatal.

Water and shade: If animals must be left outside, they should be supplied with ample water and shade, and the shifting sun needs to be taken into account. Even brief periods of direct exposure to the sun while you're at work can have life-threatening consequences.

Walk, don't run: In very hot, humid weather, never exercise dogs by cycling while they try to keep up or by running them while you jog. Dogs will collapse before giving up, at which point it may be too late to save them.

Avoid parked cars: Never leave an animal in a parked car in warm weather, even for short periods with the windows slightly open. Dogs trapped inside parked cars can succumb to heatstroke within minutes -- even if the car isn't parked in direct sunlight.

Pickups: Never transport animals in the bed of a pickup truck. This practice is dangerous—and illegal in many cities and states—because animals can catapult out of the truck bed on a sudden stop or choke if they jump out while they're tied up.

Stay alert and save a life: Keep an eye on all outdoor animals. Make sure that they have adequate water and shelter. If you see an animal in distress, contact humane authorities right away and give them immediate relief by providing water.

George Graham, The Republican

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