Pets Rescued From Heat by Citizen Heroes

July 6, 2011 | By Margo Ann Sullivan | Category: Heroes | 1 comment
Tags: adoption & rescue, heroes

Animals recover, find homes through Massachusetts SPCA.

Elmer came full circle last week. The young shorthaired German pointer strolled out of Boston's MSPCA-Angell with a new owner bound for a weekend walk in the Maine woods.

"He's totally cute," said the MSPCA-Angell's Rob Halpin who confirmed Friday the staff's little favorite has been adopted. Yet, for a few hours earlier this month, it was touch and go for Elmer.

Tewksbury, Mass. police on June 7 rescued him and more than a dozen other animals "near-death," the MSPCA said, from heat exhaustion after spending six hours inside a van.

The pet owner, Margaret Nickerson-Malpher, 71, of Sioux Falls, S.D., told police she had stopped to rest on the way from her Maine home to another home in South Dakota. She parked at the Motel 6 and left her animals for six hours while she took a nap.

The temperature outside was 85 degrees, Deputy Police Chief John Voto said. The officers investigated after a Motel 6 employee reported seeing a dead dog in one of the guest rooms and other animals locked in a hot van.

Nickerson-Malpher faces 17 counts of animal cruelty, according to Voto. Her lawyer, Paul King of Tewksbury, Mass., did not return calls asking for comment. According to court records, she was previously convicted of animal cruelty charges in Maine and has sued Maine state officials for seizing her animals.

When police arrived on the Tewksbury scene, they found the van with the windows shut. Looking through the glass, they saw some dogs in crates. The dogs appeared distressed, Voto said. Officers raised Nickerson-Malpher and opened the van. That's when a blast of boiling hot air and a stench hit them, Voto said.

Officers and passersby pulled the animals to safety and cooled them down with ice and water. They moved the animals to an air-conditioned room and waited for the MSPCA's Animal Protection Unit.

In addition to the dead dog in the motel room, police found 14 surviving dogs and two cats, some in the van and some in the motel room.

All the dogs were scared and dehydrated, according to Halpin. None could walk, and three dogs, including Elmer, needed critical care.

Six of the dogs are still recuperating at the MSPCA's Nevins Farm in Methuen, Mass. Three of the Nevins Farms dogs have also been adopted, and two are awaiting new owners.

"The other animals were in pretty good shape," said Dr. Kiko Bracker, emergency care specialist at MSPCA-Angell.

But Elmer and two other dogs, Virginia and Posey, needed aggressive emergency at Boston's MSPCA-Angell Animal Hospital.

"The one who was worst off was Elmer," said Dr. Kiko Bracker, emergency care specialist at MSPCA-Angell.

The following morning, Bracker said, Elmer, Virginia and Posey had improved but still needed close attention.

"They were still relatively shocky," he said, meaning they could move but were "lethargic" and not walking well. He also found signs of petichial hemorrhages in the dogs' gums.

"It's a result of platelet dysfunction," he said, describing the bloody pinpoints as "tiny little bleeds one millimeter across."

Loss of blood is not the real issue, he said; rather the hemorrhaging shows possible organ damage due to heat stress.

But Elmer responded to care. "He actually did quite well," Bracker said. "In less than 12 hours, he was wagging his tail." Bracker said in heat stress cases, the first 24 hours are critical.

"They had already been initially treated at the scene," Bracker said; police and the MSPCA hosed them down with water and put them under fans.

This simple emergency treatment does save lives, and pet owners can administer it themselves, if they find an animal in distress, Bracker said.

The MSPCA veterinarians also gave the dogs an intravenous saline solution to hydrate them. Although these dogs could drink water, they couldn't absorb enough fluid on their own to cool down.

"They didn't feel well enough to drink enough," he said.

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Comments (1)

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4 years ago

That is sad poor puppies I once saw an episode of animal cops where they where in florida and it was a very hot summer day and there was a call about four dogs on the roof of an apartment building 3 of the dogs had melted it was so hot out the 4th dog was very weak but they where able to save him these dogs where all black labs. I was happy to hear that at least one dog made it. I hope all the pup's are safe and sound and I wish animal cruelty would disapear from the face of the earth.

Good Point | Reply ›

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