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Employees discover 13 dogs trapped inside of sweltering hot car, one dog dies

ELLISVILLE, MO - A horrific case of animal abuse out of West St. Louis County. The Ellisville Police Department said that a dozen dogs were left trapped inside of a sweltering hot car for hours, one of whom later died.

“We got a call from some employees at the Post-Dispatch Distribution Center at the Westwood Business Park and said they found a large group of dogs inside of a vehicle and that vehicle was closed up,” said Detective Joey Nickles.

Police said the employees quickly got them out and poured water on them to help the animals cool off before help arrived. Police believe, their ages ranged from 3 to 6 months old, with one being older.

“There were two dogs that were in such distress that we felt we needed to get them to a veterinary immediately,” explained Nickels.

Doctors at Ellisville Veterinary Hospital said that when the two dogs, a male, and a female arrived, the male dog was critical.

His core temperature was 107 degrees when normal body temperature for a dog is 101 to 102.

“The other one recovered fairly quickly just by having her temperature brought down,” said Dr. Zach Whitehead, “the other one was very sick and in shock, so we attempted some life-saving treatments, unfortunately, those did not work.”

All surviving dogs were taken to St. Louis County Animal Control.

As of late Tuesday evening, doctors were continuing to monitor their health as symptoms can develop after the fact.

“Four were suffering from heat stress and heat stroke, a little bit shaky and all are demonstrating a little bit of brain damage,” said Dr. Christine Donnelly.

Nickles said that the department has identified a man and a woman as the suspects. He said they could be facing serious charges. He said the woman also happens to be the owner of the inoperable car where the dogs were found.

“We are looking at animal abuse charges and pretty serious misdemeanor charges,” Nickles said, “we are looking at 13 counts.”

Nickles said, similar cases are not uncommon during the hot summer months but this one was extreme.

“Especially in these hot vehicles, it’s incredibly inhumane to leave these animals who are helpless,” he said, “they can’t care for themselves, they can’t open the doors or roll down the window themselves.”