Dog News

Florida SPCA Pres Jailed for Rescuing Sweltering Dog

by Melanie

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9.4.13 - SPCA Pres Jailed for Saving Dog

When a man saw a dog tied to the back of an SUV on a blistering day last week in Florida, he probably thought an arrest might be involved – but never would he have thought it was his own!

Indian River County SPCA President Van DeMars discovered a 14-year-old dog tethered to the back of an SUV at a Publix supermarket in Sebastian, Florida. The temperature had soared nearly 100 degrees, and Davey the dog was lying on hot asphalt. He appeared to be in distress, and with the owner nowhere in sight, DeMars stepped in.

“He was literally choking himself, trying to get under the car,” DeMars said.

He took video of the dog to show to authorities.

“This is how dogs end up dying and getting sick,” he can be heard saying on the recording. “He’s panting. This is what happens when they first start to get into heat stress.”

Then he unclipped Davey’s leash and brought him into the shade. He called law enforcement, but Davey’s owner, 83-year-old Robert Huffman, arrived first after having been inside the store for about 30 minutes. He was very unhappy that his dog had been untied, claiming the dog was in no danger (despite being in the oppressive heat) – he had done this many times before.

Investigators say the dog was on a 15-foot leash and had a water bowl, but it was still too hot for Davey to be left outside on the pavement in the sun, so DeMars have felt the need to intervene.  When asked if he did anything he shouldn’t have, he said, “No. Absolutely not.” But a few days later he was arrested for second degree petit theft. DeMars admits that he temporarily withheld the dog from his owner, but only for his own good.

“We are confident that this charge will be dropped once the State Attorney views the evidence and documentation of the incident,” read a statement on the SPCA of IRCFL’s Facebook page.  “Sadly, we have no choice but to file a formal grievance against this Deputy with Sheriff’s Office. We are obtaining legal Counsel.”

Despite his arrest, DeMars has no regrets about his actions.

“If the price of that dog’s safety and life was me going to jail and even facing further consequences than so be it.”

According to Davey’s owner, he is in good condition.