After months of watching a neighbor leave his German Shepherd puppy outside in the heat all day, two women in Buckeye, fed up with it, decided to call the police.
A policeman came to leave three minutes later. The dog had water and shade and, despite the “brutal heat”, did not seem to be suffering, the officer wrote in the police report. There was nothing he could do.
Tisha-Monique Pena and her neighbor didn’t know what to do next.
The story is all too common in Arizona.
Animal neglect is all too common
The Arizona Humane Society has responded to more than 9,000 animal abuse and neglect complaints over a 12-month period between 2019 and 2020, spokeswoman Bretta Nelson told The Arizona Republic.
“Social checks, surrender or no water” are the most common complaints, Nelson said, adding that the summer months are always the worst.
This month alone, the Humane Society received 300 complaints in one week. Half of them were heat-related – “Things like checking for pets with no water, no shelter, tied outside, tied outside, left in hot cars,” Nelson said.
The figures exclude some complaints filed with city police departments that do not have a contract with the Humane Society.
The Buckeye Police Department, for example, responded to 445 complaints of animal neglect, welfare and general “animal problems” in 2020. Cases include reports of dogs caged in the sun without water in mid-July.
That month, the department responded to a report that at least eight French bulldogs were left outside in cages, according to public records made available to the republic.
Sometimes owners are charged with cruelty to animals. In some cases, animals are confiscated when they are in imminent danger. But sometimes when the owner puts the caged dog in the shade or just shows that the animal has access to shade and water, the police can’t do anything.
Fur-always-friends:Willow Blossom and other pets are being adopted at animal shelters in the Phoenix area this week
Facebook post leads to contact with owner
Pena and her neighbor wondered what else they could do to help Duke. They said they had already tried in vain to speak to the owner.
Once, Pena’s neighbor fed the dog meatloaf and dog ice cream. She threw a children’s pool over the fence and filled it with water from her hose.
They were concerned that the dog was not being adequately cared for, Pena said.
Next, Pena went to Facebook.
“I didn’t mean to cause a rift, but at some point you have to be brave,” she told The Republic.
She wrote a social media post on the neighborhood Facebook group asking the owner to contact her:
“If you are the owner of Duke the German Shepherd, PLEASE send me a message. I would love to help you get your dog home again. Leaving him outside in these conditions is an intolerable and cruel way and you have the help ignored. BPD was called and unfortunately there is nothing they can do. #SaveDuke “, was their contribution.
The owner called her a day later.
Owner says Duke has been relocated
Pena said they had a friendly chat in which he confirmed the family was going through a difficult period and eventually decided to hand Duke over to another family member.
The Republic asked the Duke owner for a comment but didn’t hear in time for the release.
Pena said she couldn’t verify that Duke actually went to a safe home, but she hadn’t seen him in the back yard, so she felt fine.
Buckeye deputy chief of police Robert Sanders also told the republic the family said they had repatriated the dog.
No hard feelings
Pena was impressed with how nice the owner was, she said.
After posting her plea on Facebook, members of the neighborhood followed the comments with inflammatory statements and attacked the owner for not feeling better.
“He was so nice,” said Pena. “Despite all the anger and judgment the people (the owners) have, we don’t know their situation.”
He was gracious enough to do something about it, said Pena.
“My intention was to show compassion to the owners of Duke,” she told the Republic. “Compassion for what I didn’t understand and … ultimately, Duke’s health care.”
Reach reporter Taylor Seely at [email protected] or 480-476-6116. Follow her on Twitter @ taylorseely95 or Instagram @ taylor.azc.
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