LAKE GROVE, NY — A Lake Grove woman and employee of Guide Dog Foundation faces animal cruelty charges after she was accused of leaving a dog in a hot van, leading to the canine’s death, the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals announced.
Jodi Meyers, 51, left a black Labrador retriever named Milton inside a van for 5 1/2 hours on a 90-degree day on July 22, said Roy Gross, chief of the Suffolk SPCA.
Meyers was charged with one count each of animal cruelty and failing to provide proper shelter and air, both misdemeanor charges that carry a penalty of up to one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. Gross said he does not believe Meyers purposely left the 3-year-old dog in the van, or she could have faced a felony charge.
Meyers took the dog out for training and left the dog inside a crate in a work van for hours on a hot day, Gross said. Meyers refused to disclose her whereabouts to investigators during the time that Milton was left in the van, Gross said.
“Just think about how that dog suffered to die in that heat in a closed van like that and how horrible that is,” Gross told Patch.
Meyers was on the clock for Guide Dog Foundation, a nonprofit in St. James, according to the Suffolk SPCA.
Gross called Milton’s death “shocking.”
“It’s very shocking how the dog had suffered and died like that,” he said. “The woman who had that dog, that was her service dog who she loved as a family member, and how she’s suffering as well. That all could have been avoided just by being careful.”
The Guide Dog Foundation said it is cooperating with the Suffolk SPCA’s investigation.
“The health, safety, and wellbeing of the dogs in our care as well as the people we serve continue to be our top priority,” the organization wrote in a statement. “Our community continues to work together as we focus on improving the quality of life for people who are blind, have low vision, or have other disabilities.”
The foundation would not comment on Meyers’s employment status.
Meyers surrendered to SPCA detectives Wednesday and was scheduled to appear in Central Islip district court Oct. 11.
“Animal cruelty will not be tolerated in Suffolk County,” Gross said.
Gross urged people to check their cars to make sure they aren’t leaving their pet or child in there. For 30 to 45 minutes on a 90-degree day, there’s a good chance a dog left in a car will die, Gross said.
“Just don’t do it,” Gross said. “A lot of people say, ‘I left the car running.’ Well, what if the car stalls? Or you left the windows open. What if someone steals the dog or the dog jumps out the window?”
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