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A man that’s dedicated his life to animal advocacy and rescue now faces misdemeanor 2nd-degree petit theft charges and jail time for doing exactly what any one of us would have done – saving a dog’s life.
Indian River County S.P.C.A. President Van DeMars was visiting a South Florida Publix Supermarket when he spotted a dog in distress. The dog was tethered to the an SUV, sitting on the scorching hot asphalt while temperatures outside soared to about 90-degrees.
DeMars waited with the dog for several minutes, during which he took a video of the distressed dog with his cell phone camera.
“This is how dogs end up dying and getting sick,” he can be heard saying on the recording. “He’s panting. This is what happens when they first start to get into heat stress.”
After several minutes and no sign of the dog’s owner, DeMars untied him. “I made the decision that I’m going to un-click the leash and take him into the shade,” he told WPTV NewsChannel 5. He then called local law enforcement. DeMars explained that the dog was literally choking himself on his collar in an attempt to get into the shade beneath the SUV.
However, the dog’s owner, 83-year old Robert Huffman, arrived before police. DeMars refused to release the dog until police arrived. Huffman, unhappy that DeMars had moved his dog, 14-year old Davey, pressed charges against the man that potentially saved his dog’s life.
Huffman also explained that he tethers his dog to his vehicle frequently and that the dog is always fine.
Days later, Indian River County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived at DeMars’ home to arrest him and charge him with 2nd Degree Petit Theft.
Despite charges brought against him, DeMars does not regret his actions. “If the price of that dog’s safety and life was me going to jail and even facing further consequences than so be it,” he told reporters.