Dog handler faces animal cruelty charge

July 7, 2009 at 6:52 PM
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HILLSBORO, Mo., July 7 (UPI) -- A St. Louis-area dog handler has been charged with animal cruelty for leaving eight show dogs overnight in a van where seven of them died.

Investigators said Mary Wild left the dogs in the van when she returned to her home in Arnold June 22 after showing them in Iowa for their owners, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. They said the temperature in the vehicle could have hit 120 degrees.

The Jefferson County district attorney said Monday Wild is free on bail.

Wild reportedly told police she left the dogs in the vehicle in their traveling kennels because her garage was too hot for the animals. She said she left the van under a tree with windows open and six fans going. When she checked the dogs at 6:30 a.m., she found five unresponsive.

A Siberian Husky survived. The others, including an akita, Dalmatian, three golden retrievers and a malamute, died of heat stroke.

Wild's mother is also a dog-handler. A spokeswoman for the American Kennel Club, Daisy Okas, said Wild, 24, is not registered with the AKC as a handler.

If Wild is convicted, the AKC would impose its own penalty, Okas said, which could be a fine or up to 15 years suspension.

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