ORLANDO — In the dog days of summer, it’s sadly turning out to be very tough days for all too many local pets.
The Orange County Animal Services is reporting that for the second time in recent weeks, an animal abuse case came to the attention of local law enforcement — by a call from a pizza delivery worker.
The first instance happened in Winter Haven, when a delivery driver brought a pizza to a home where there was a cockfighting ring going on, which he promptly reported to authorities.
Then on Sunday, June 28, a delivery driver reported to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office that he’d found an injured puppy on North Ohio Avenue in Orlando.
An Orange County Animal Services’ officer responded to the call, and found an injured three-month-old puppy, the shelter noted in a news release.
“Per the pet owner, the dog had sustained an injury from another dog in the neighborhood,” the shelter noted. “The owner surrendered the pet to Animal Services. An investigation is currently pending.”
The good news, the shelter noted, is that puppy – dubbed Pupperoni by Animal Services staff — is now recovering.
“Despite her injuries, Pupperoni is still a friendly, outgoing pup seeking companionship and attention,” said Dil Luther, the division manager of OCAS.
The female dog’s injuries were examined by the Animal Services veterinarians, who diagnosed her with “an untreated injury resulting in an infection of the leg,” the shelter noted. “She is unable to bear weight on the injured leg and it may need to be amputated. She will need long-term medical care, beyond what can be provided by Animal Services, so the shelter has notified local rescue groups about her situation in the hopes one of them can obtain the necessary care.”
Orange County Animal Services has been highlighting this case to raise awareness of the ongoing problem of animal abuse and neglect. If the pizzeria worker had not made the call, Luther noted, this puppy might never have gotten treatment.
Animal abuse and neglect can be reported anonymously by calling Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS (8477).
“We cannot stress enough the importance of reporting animal abuse and neglect as these victims cannot speak for themselves,” Luther said.
But that’s not the only problem the shelter has been dealing with. The staff is also warning residents that there’s been an alarming trend in recent weeks: pets left in locked cars.
“In a 72 hour stretch spanning from Saturday, June 27 through Tuesday, June 30, Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Animal Services officers responded to three situations in which pets were left in dangerously hot cars,” the shelter noted.
The most recent case happened on Saturday, June 27, when Money, a male Maltese, was left in a Nissan owned by Shawanda Pierce, 31, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park.
After other guests spotted the desperate dog, authorities were notified. The outside temperature that day was between 90 to 95 degrees.
“Money was reportedly observed in the car as early as 12 p.m. that day,” the shelter noted. “A law enforcement officer removed Money from the car. Animal Services stayed onsite until 8 p.m., an hour after the park closed, waiting for the owner. Money was impounded at the shelter and reclaimed two days later on Monday, June 29, at which time the owner was issued a citation for neglect, a fine of $265.”
That wasn’t the only instance of this abuse. On Sunday, June 28, officers from the two agencies were called to the Target superstore on Town Center Boulevard. Simon, a male Maltese, was found locked in a truck. Officers later reported that the temperature reading inside the vehicle was approaching 130 degrees.
The owner, Britton Ortize, 41, was arrested when he returned to the truck, and Simon was impounded at Animal Services. Ortize was issued a citation for neglect from Animal Services, a $265 fine.
On Tuesday, June 30, the two agencies responded to the Florida Mall, where a dog named Lulu, a female Yorkie, was seen inside a locked car. The temperature inside was at 120 degrees, officers later noted.
“Officers noted the windows were not cracked and no water was available,” the shelter report notes.
The owner, Jimena Chica, 41, eventually returned to the car and told officers she had been planning a “quick trip” to the mall, although officers later said she spent at least an hour inside the mall.
Chica was arrested and Lulu was impounded at Animal Services, then reclaimed the next day.
“In this weather, it is completely unacceptable to leave a pet in a car,” Luther said. “Temperatures inside the car soar and the pet’s life is in immediate danger, regardless of if the windows are cracked.”
Animal Services is urging all pet owners to leave their pets at home rather than bring them on shopping trips, while tourists visiting with pets should also avoid leaving their animals in parked cars.
“Thankfully in these situations the pets were able to recover, but we won’t always be as fortunate if this trend continues,” Luther said.
Orange County Animal Services is Central Florida’s largest pet rescue and adoption center.
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