Dog’s death triggers change of hospital’s relevant policy

MORGANTOWN — April, a 10-year-old Boston Terrier, died in a hot car in J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital’s parking lot June 8, triggering a review of the hospital’s relevant policy, a spokesperson said.
“This happens way too often in Monongalia County,” Dana Johnson, Monongalia County dog warden supervisor, said.
Amy Johns, WVU Medicine spokesperson, said that hospital security is deeply upset by the incident and rescues animals from cars in its lot daily — two were rescued the weekend following April’s death.
Morgantown Police arrested Denise Vanglider, 53, of Buckhannon. She is charged with cruelty to animals and if convicted, faces a fine of not less than $300 and not more than $2,000 and/or not more than six months in jail. She was arraigned in Morgantown Municipal Court and released on $250 bond.
One dog was rescued Wednesday; its owner cited for the offense and arrested on a warrant, Johns said.
Protocol states security officers are to check on animals left in cars and if the animal is in distress, they attempt to gain entry and notify police, Johns said. That policy is being reviewed in light of the recent incident.
Johns encouraged people to not bring their animals to the hospital unless they are service animals.
According to Ruby Security and Vanglider’s criminal complaint:
A security officer first discovered the dog in the C6 parking lot about 1:45 p.m. and consulted with the lead officer. They judged the dog was not in distress. The officer was called to the scene of a motor vehicle accident and a transport before checking on April about 15 to 20 minutes later with another officer.
The two saw the dog jumping between the front and back seats and panting a bit, but the officers, both dog owners, determined the dog was not in serious distress. A door on the silver 2016 Chevrolet Cobalt was unlocked and the two went to get water for the dog. When they returned, April was dead and police were called. The outside temperature in the parking lot was 83 degrees when police arrived.
Police determined Vanglider owned the vehicle and the hospital paged her. MPD had been on scene about 45 minutes when Vanglider arrived at the vehicle and told the officer she had checked on the dog about 10 minutes earlier. She was then arrested and a Monongalia County dog warden came to retrieve the dog’s body.
What you should do
Call 911 if an animal is left alone in a car and appears to be in distress, Johnson said.
It doesn’t take long for a dog to overheat. Cracking windows does very little to help and the inside of a car can rise 10-15 degrees in “just minutes,” she said.
“People just don’t understand the temperature difference between the outside and inside of a car,” Johnson said.
West Virginia does not have a shield law that protects those who break a window to save an animal, Chief Deputy Al Kisner, Mon County Sheriff’s Department, said. People who do so can be prosecuted for destruction of property, should the vehicle owner choose to pursue it, he said.
The animal doesn’t have to die for an owner to be charged with animal cruelty, Kisner said. Under state code the prosecution only has to prove the animal was left in a situation where death or injury was likely.
“Leave the dog at home,” Johnson said. “It’s so much safer.”

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