Three animal shelter employees are facing animal neglect charges for their alleged involvement in the deaths of seven puppies during transportation in California over the summer.
Police officers started an investigation into the deaths back in August after seven pit bull and Labrador puppies were reported dead following a journey from the Central Valley to Palo Alto in the back of a van.
The puppies were being transported by employees from the Pets In Need Palo Alto animal shelter as other shelters were unable to accommodate them. The Palo Alto staff had planned to take them back to their shelter for adoption instead—a routine activity for the shelter, police said in a press release.
Police did not specify exactly how long the puppies were in the van, but the employees were away on the transport trip for several hours overall and throughout the day a total of 27 dogs, including the seven puppies all from the same litter, were picked up.
According to Palo Alto police, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van that was used during the transport did not have air conditioning in its rear cargo area and the employees did not provide the dogs with water. The temperature that day in the Central Valley was between 90 and 100 F, police added.
However, the employees did check on the dogs during a stop for fuel in Los Banos on the return trip to Palo Alto, and “reported that none of the animals appeared distressed,” police said in the news release.
When the employees arrived back at the shelter, the seven puppies were unresponsive. The employees immediately called on veterinary staff to help, but they were unable to resuscitate the puppies. All of the other dogs that were in the transport van survived.
The case was presented to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, and each of the three suspects had misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty and neglect filed against them.
On October 26 all the suspects were cited and then released by detectives which is standard for non-violent misdemeanors, police said. It is unclear when the employees are due to appear in court.
Police did not state what the cause of the puppies’ death was.
Pets In Need issued a statement regarding the deaths on its website.
It said: “Pets In Need has been saving animals and conducting rescue runs for over 50 years.
“This was a tragic incident that has saddened the entire Pets In Need family.
“We recognize the trust placed in Pets In Need by our donors, staff, volunteers and supporters, and appreciate the community’s support during this very challenging time”.
Earlier this month, an animal shelter in Atlanta rescued 41 cats from being euthanized after they were found packed into a U-Haul truck for transport.
Atlanta’s Furkids Animal Rescue and Shelters took the cats in and asked for help with donations and adoptions.