Ocala, Florida — The Humane Society of Marion County said that they are devastated over the death of one of their dogs that was left in a hot van.
HSMC officials said, “As an organization that works so hard to preserve life, this is devastating to us.”
On Friday, September 11, a person who was coordinating the PetSmart National Adoption Event had called the shelter and asked for someone to come pick up a dog that would not stop barking.
In a press release, HSMC wrote, “When the Humane Society participates in an adoption event, the standard protocol if some of the dogs start barking too much, is to send them back to the shelter.”
According to reports, when the driver arrived at PetSmart, a volunteer put two dogs in the back of the van. The driver was not notified of the second dog.
During the drive back to the shelter, one of the dogs, Willa, got out of her crate and made her way toward the front of the van.
Once at the shelter, a staff member opened a side door to the van and only saw and unloaded Willa. The staff member said that she did not see nor hear the second dog, Rollin.
Officials said that the driver then drove back to PetSmart and parked the van, unaware that Rollin was still inside.
It was not until staff began to pack up at the end of the day that Rollin was discovered deceased.
Officials estimated that the dog had been left in the sweltering van for approximately two hours.
“Nothing has ever happened like this before,” HSMC officials said. “Because of this tragedy, we are implementing ‘Rollin’s Rules,’ including steps that will be taken in the future that will help remind staff and volunteers to thoroughly check the van before parking it.”
In an e-mail to Ocala Post, Marion County Public Information Officer Elaine DeIorio McClain wrote, “Marion County Animal Services plans to open a case on this incident, as would happen with any reported case of this nature, and [Marion County Animal Services] has reached out to the Humane Society.”
HSMC officials would not identify the employees involved. However, they did say that the staff member working at PetSmart has been working with animals for 15 years and the driver for eight.