Florida SPCA Pres Jailed for Rescuing Sweltering Dog

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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.



0 thoughts on “Florida SPCA Pres Jailed for Rescuing Sweltering Dog”

  1. You’ve GOT to be kidding! Arrested for saving a dog’s life? What kind of morons are on that police department’s payroll? Warnings about leaving a dog in a hot car OR EVEN IN THE HOT SUN, “stupid”, is WIDELY PUBLICIZED EACH YEAR! Yet IDIOTS like THIS POOR DOG’S OWNER apparently either CAN’T READ or has NO EARS! This SPCA officer was arrested falsely….it was the OWNER who exhibited not only bad judgement but also ANIMAL ABUSE! I just pray that SOMEONE watches this idiot who owns this sweet dog and keeps their eye open for any further abuse and ACTS ACCORDINGLY IF THEY WITNESS ANY–>and I mean ANY—>that includes another episode of tying an innocent animal outside with all the extreme heat this country has experienced this year!!! *sig* Good grief! This makes me SO very ANGRY!! >:(

  2. While pets are great comforts for aging seniors it can often be dangerous for the poor animals. Dementia is a growing problem for seniors living on their own and it is almost impossible to detect until it’s too late. Pets become the unintended victims of once-caring seniors who slowly lose control of memory and normal behavior. These animals can only depend on the help of others willing to confront seniors who fight desperately to protect themselves. There is no other answer.

    • Wow! That was a leap! Because he’s old he has dementia? And where in the story does it say the owner lives alone? You were obviously trying to make a point about people who, in your opinion, should not have pets, but please, there is nothing in this story to suggest the owner is demented. He put the dog out of the vehicle, I would guess, because he knew how hot the car would get, and he should have left the dog at home on such a hot day. He made a mistake, as did the police. Please don’t label older adults with “dementia” just because they didn’t do what you might have done.

  3. The authorities did have a choice…. They could have said No. We are not going to charge him. End of story.

    • I don’t think our laws work that way – as stupid as it is – if he filed a complaint the cops have to follow thru.

  4. And we wonder why our courts are bogged down with stupid cases. Shame on them!

    This elderly owner should have been written up with a notice and then made to take classes from SOMEWHERE to show him the dangers if what he did.

    This is ridiculous. Any animal lover would have done the same thing.

  5. Davey’s owner is an ass. Sure the dog had water – too bad he couldn’t reach it. An old dog in the hot sun – try standing on it in YOUR bare feet Mr. old man. If you love your dog, take care of him.

  6. Not sure I agree. I agree with DeMars unleashing the dog and helping him but not withholding the animal to the owner. He had the dog outside of the vehicle and water supplied. The owner did make a mistake and hopefully learns from this but I don’t believe he was moleishes in his actions and that. But the issue is not the treatment of the dog but the with holding of the dog from the owner.


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