Thirteen overheated dogs were rescued after being trapped for hours inside an inoperable Honda Civic located behind 16175 Westwoods Business Park in Ellisville on May 22. The car was parked in the sun with all the windows rolled up.
One dog died and the others suffered from flea infestation, malnourishment and other trauma.
The dogs were rescued at about 9:30 a.m. after an office employee noticed windows fogging up and opened the unlocked car. Police responded to the call and helped nearby employees pour water on the dogs to cool them down.According to Detective Joey Nickles with the Ellisville Police Department, even though the ambient temperature at the time of rescue was between 70 and 80 degrees, it was still, “plenty hot to kill the dogs.”
“We know that’s the case because they were all suffering from heat stroke,” Nickles said.
The rescued dogs had fleas, were malnourished and displayed weakness in their hind legs. Two dogs in critical condition were transported to the Ellisville Veterinary Clinic, located off Clarkson Road. There, an adult dog died from a heat stroke and had a recorded internal body temperature of 107 degrees compared to a normal 101 degrees. The dog also had abnormally low blood sugar level from heat exposure and shock.The other dog received an IV was able to be recovered. The twelve surviving dogs are in the custody of St. Louis County animal control.
According to Nickles, two suspects initially reached out to police with intent to surrender but have since failed to return inquiring phone calls. One suspect is a female employee who works at ACI, a distribution company in the park. The suspect failed to show up at work the morning the dogs were discovered in the car.The next step in the upcoming week is for Nickles to file warrants to investigate charges which, depending on a pending report from animal control to be returned sometime next week, could range from animal abandonment to animal cruelty depending on documented injuries. At the same time, the department will also release any adoption information for the dogs.
“As soon as I get that report back from animal control, I’ll know what charges to file,” Nickles said. “There’s going to be thirteen charges total, we just don’t know which ones are which, or how many of each one there is.”According to Nickles, the car was inoperable and had been parked on the lot for a few weeks while out of commission. Witnesses came forward and said the dogs were put in the car at about around 2 a.m. in the morning. Police estimate the dogs had been in the car for six to eight hours.
Of the 13 dogs, 12 were lab-mixes and one was a chihuahua. All but one of the mixed breeds were estimated be to puppies ranging from four to six weeks in age.
According to Nickles, Ellisville police receive about one to two calls a day responding to animals locked in hot cars in summer months and said the incident should be a “wake-up” call.
“We’ll start getting more and more calls as it gets hotter,” Nickles said.
On May 30, two suspects were arrested and booked in connection with the crime. Sharon Kibbee, age 63, and Michael Jones, age 51, of Richwoods, Mo. were both charged with 13 counts of Animal Abuse and, according to Nickles, have been released pending a court date of June 14.