SPCA President Arrested for Rescuing Dog Tethered in Hot Parking Lot - The Dogington Post
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SPCA President Arrested for Rescuing Dog Tethered in Hot Parking Lot

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.

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79 Comments

79 Comments

  1. Laura

    Sep 21, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    This man should be grateful for what the SPCA official did to help this poor animal. Shame on him for tying the dog like that to begin with..HE should be the one being arrested. Shame on him for bringing charges against the man who tried to save the dog from harm. Where is the common sense with the law involved here??

  2. Valerie

    Sep 11, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    The Indian River County Sheriff’s Dept. posted a response to the overwhelming outrage the residence have over this situation. Below is their response…

    “We would like to thank you for bringing your concerns about the recent arrest of Mr. Demars to our attention. Our relationships with the community are important and Facebook has proven to be a great means of communicating with those we serve. We appreciate the passion that many have expressed about this case and we feel a response about some of the misconceptions may help to provide a better understanding of the facts.

    This case began when an 82 year old man came to the lobby of the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office and filed a complaint that his dog had been withheld from him during an encounter with Mr. Demars. We documented the incident as it was relayed to us by the complainant and presented the details to the Office of the State Attorney. A warrant for petty theft was approved by the prosecutor and signed by a judge based on the allegation that Mr. Demars withheld the complainant’s dog after he requested it be returned.

    There appears to be a misconception that Mr. Demars was arrested because he untied the dog from the owner’s vehicle and took him into the shade. This was not the reason Mr. Demars was arrested. When the owner came out of the store and asked that his dog be returned, it was reported that Mr. Demars refused to give the dog to his owner. This temporary deprivation of the owner’s dog was the offense for which Mr. Demars was arrested.

    An animal control officer was on scene and evaluated the dog. It was determined that the dog was not in danger and there was no legal justification to remove the dog from his owner or issue a citation. Mr. Demars’ case is now being evaluated by the Office of the State Attorney and any decisions about the disposition will be made by that office.

    We hope this has cleared up some of the incorrect information which has circulated through social media and other outlets. Thank you again for taking the time to bring your concerns to our attention.

    Photo: We would like to thank you for bringing your concerns about the recent arrest of Mr. Demars to our attention. Our relationships with the community are important and Facebook has proven to be a great means of communicating with those we serve. We appreciate the passion that many have expressed about this case and we feel a response about some of the misconceptions may help to provide a better understanding of the facts. This case began when an 82 year old man came to the lobby of the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office and filed a complaint that his dog had been withheld from him during an encounter with Mr. Demars. We documented the incident as it was relayed to us by the complainant and presented the details to the Office of the State Attorney. A warrant for petty theft was approved by the prosecutor and signed by a judge based on the allegation that Mr. Demars withheld the complainant’s dog after he requested it be returned. There appears to be a misconception that Mr. Demars was arrested because he untied the dog from the owner’s vehicle and took him into the shade. This was not the reason Mr. Demars was arrested. When the owner came out of the store and asked that his dog be returned, it was reported that Mr. Demars refused to give the dog to his owner. This temporary deprivation of the owner’s dog was the offense for which Mr. Demars was arrested. An animal control officer was on scene and evaluated the dog. It was determined that the dog was not in danger and there was no legal justification to remove the dog from his owner or issue a citation. Mr. Demars’ case is now being evaluated by the Office of the State Attorney and any decisions about the disposition will be made by that office. We hope this has cleared up some of the incorrect information which has circulated through social media and other outlets. Thank you again for taking the time to bring your concerns to our attention”.

    If you think this is just a case of holding the dog against the owners will then I would like to invite you to look up SPCA of Indian River County, Fl. on Facebook and read the stories about how many times the Animal Control Officer has neglected to do his job when it comes to the animals of Indian River County. The officer & the sheriff’s department should both be ashamed of themselves!

    • Van DeMars

      Sep 11, 2013 at 11:04 pm

      Hey Valerie, if you’re in a 100 mile radius of me, I’ll buy you coffee or lunch or dinner. Van

  3. Susan Bohannon

    Sep 6, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    Do unto others, whatever branch of the mammalian family tree they happen to inhabit. If it has the same internal organs that you do, breathes oxygen, & eats food, it deserves consideration.
    The guy isn’t stupid. He’s an asshole. Sorry, but thats the best term for someone who completely (and routinely, by his own admission), disregards another’s basic comfort and risks their health for his own convenience. All he has to do is mentally switch places with his poor dog to know that what he does is morally wrong.

  4. Deborah McCaffrey

    Sep 6, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    The owner was STUPID and you can’t cure stupid, unfortunately. I myself have called the police on several occasions for dogs left in cars. Fortunately, in Vermont there is a law against it.

  5. Karen

    Sep 6, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Yeah typical we let Rapists go we let child murderers go we let drug dealers go but we arrest the guy that saved a Sr Dogs life

    • Janet

      Sep 6, 2013 at 9:28 pm

      If anyone feels like sending the idiot owner anything or calling him, be my guest…here’s his info:

      Robert E Huffman 677 Jordan Ave Sebastian, FL 32958 (772) 589-3295 – found on Zabasearch He’s in South Florida which is even hotter than Central Florida. And his dog, Davey, a 14 year old large breed, is even more likely to be affected by heat because he is a senior!!

      If I knew where Van DeMar’s hearing was, I’d write the judge so if anyone gets that info please share it! Thanks.

  6. DottieW

    Sep 6, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    The Humane Society of Missouri in St. Louis published a telephone number to call if anyone sees a dog in distress. I’ve never (thankfully) needed to use it but it is on my cell phone. I wonder if they would really come?

  7. Nancy

    Sep 6, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    When we see animals left in hot cars, I think we should call several local TV stations–who are always hungry for stories–in addition to the police and the local animal shelter, if there is one. When these stories start popping up on the nightly news, they will serve two functions: 1) educate people about the dangers of leaving animals in vehicles, and 2) embarrass those who were caught on film. The possibility of public humiliation is a powerful deterrent for potential offenders and re-offenders.

    People are generally smart enough not to leave ice cream and chocolate candy in a car parked in the sun. It amazes me that this consideration and judgment does not extend to animals.

  8. George Chase

    Sep 6, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    1) I had a recruiter for ASM tell me I could take my pug with me and leave him in the car while I went to appointments of an hour duration. She was in Tampa, FL. HR never returned my call, they are in Irvine, CA. Of course I declined.
    2) Isn’t this the same law enforcement that could find little Jessica, that Couley took from across the street?
    3) Same law enforcement that couldn’t find KayLee Anthony?
    4) I don’t care how nice they make the Villages look on TV, FL is NOT for me.
    I may be weird about my Pug, but he is my responsibility not just to own, but to protect from all dangers.

    • Janet

      Sep 6, 2013 at 8:44 pm

      Yeah, it is not for many of us stuck here! Stupidness abounds!

  9. Renee

    Sep 6, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    A little objectivity and critical thinking about this incident might be refreshing, so lets try some, shall we? Mr. DeMars was not charged and arrested for moving the dog into the shade. He was charged and arrested for refusing to turn the dog over to the owner when he came out of the store. Moving the dog into the shade is fine and was absolutely the right thing to do, but letting his own smug sense of self-righteousness guide his decisions after the dog’s owner appeared and wanted to leave with his dog is what got this guy in trouble.

    • jac

      Sep 6, 2013 at 9:35 pm

      three cheers that someone still has common sense….

  10. Jaye Aither

    Sep 6, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Huffman should have been cited, not DeMars, I never heard of anything so ridiculous in my life. Something so wrong with that!

  11. Sharon

    Sep 6, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Van DeMars did the right thing untying the dog and moving him.

    The stupid old fart who owns him might very well have come back to find a dead dog. What would he have said then: ‘this has never happened before?’

    The idiot cops are the ones who blew it. They have animal cruelty laws, even in Florida, that they’re supposed to follow, including laws about leaving dogs in hot cars on hot days, etc. The jerks should have followed the law and charged Huffman with animal cruelty. Being a stupid old man is no excuse for what he did. He’s old enough to know better.

    • Renee

      Sep 6, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      Except that the dog was not left IN a hot car, so there’s that. If the law does not include a provision against also leaving a dog tethered outside a car, there is literally nothing the police could have done. Mr. DeMars, on the other hand, actually DID break the law when he refused to hand the dog over to its owner, which is why he was charged and arrested.

  12. Tammy W (Illinois)

    Sep 6, 2013 at 9:18 am

    HELPING should not be a bad thing! ANIMAL cruelty should be! THIS is sending the wrong message out to people! This elderly gentleman SHOULD have gotten a ticket for this or at the very least a warning! This is sickening to me! I WOULD AND STILL WILL DO THAT SAME THING!!! The health of an animal is what is important not some human getting their feelings hurt because they were not smart enough to realize what they did could have hurt the animal. When the dog dies of a heat related issue who would he held liable then?

  13. Tina

    Sep 5, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    Anyone in FL should go to this mans hearing and stand up for him….then tie the old bastard to a car so that he can’t move without water and see how he likes it.

    • doris

      Sep 6, 2013 at 3:30 pm

      i fully agree

  14. Mary Ramirez

    Sep 5, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    I am not surprised that people are blaming the police officer. But what they fail to realize that the police don’t get to choose which laws they enforce. People can get arrested for lots of things. Whether or not they get convicted is another matter. When stupid laws are brought before the courts in trials, THAT is how stupid laws get changed. Communities are slowly advancing in how animals are treated. In some cities, it is illegal to tether your dog outside for more that a certain amount of time.

  15. Jean Jones

    Sep 5, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    I would do the same thing regardless of the consequenses. It’s a no-brainer.
    Exactly what the pet owner suffers from.

  16. Paula Landua

    Sep 5, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    He has the video on his phone showing the dog is obviously in heat distress, trying to get under the vehicle where there was shade and could not, his back side was still lying in the scorching sun, and the owner admitted he leaves the poor dog that way all the time….so my question is, why isn’t the owner being charged with animal cruelty? He admitted he tethers the dog to his vehicle and leaves out in the sun….(and I wonder what other kinds of severe weather), all the time. Folks that is animal cruelty!

  17. W Brandenburg

    Sep 5, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    How screwed up this is! Why wasn’t the owner fined for animal cruelty? This is so WRONG!!!

  18. Maria Martinez

    Sep 5, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Everyone should forward their outrage to the Sheriff’s department in Indian River County, Florida. Tell them to drop the charges against the hero, Van DeMars, and to charge Robert Huffman with animal cruelty. What a ridiculous world we live in where do-gooders are fined and jailed, and bad people are indulged.

  19. SHARI

    Sep 5, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    This is just so ridiculous, the owner should have been charged with neglect at the very least, This savior did the right thing, period. Laws are so screwed up, it just makes me sick.

  20. Lenora KIng

    Sep 5, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    well, it is florida.

  21. Christina Guinn

    Sep 5, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    This is ridiculous! WTH is the matter with this country?!? No good deed goes unpunished, that’s for sure. 🙁

  22. Brenda Loucel

    Sep 5, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    upsurd, especially since we can now break car windows to rescue helpless animals..The man is in violation bringing a dog out in the vehicle on a hot day..the Rescuer did what most humans would do , SAVED THE DOG’S LIFE!!! Prosecute the owner, and please stop sending mixed signals about if animals matter..they do!! they are like taking on a child who depends on you to make safe & caring decisions..this person who tied this animal to a car in soaring temps should be arrested and serve some time being handcuffed to a car on a hot day like this dog was! Animal cruelty is against the law last time I checked!!!!

  23. Mary Messer

    Sep 5, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    I don’t understand, he didn’t steal the dog, he stood there WITH the dog. Stealing is TAKING the dog away….wrong reason for arrest. Owner should have been arrested!

  24. Rick

    Sep 5, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Actually, it is illegal to leave an animal in a car or tied up outside in Florida. The owner should have been cited for animal cruelty.

  25. Dean

    Sep 5, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    Brings to mind the old expression, “No good deed goes unpunished”.

  26. Elisa

    Sep 5, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    Why is the District Attorney spending lots of time and taxpayer money by filing charges against the rescuer? Is crime so non-existent in Sebastian that the DA has nothing better to do with limited taxpayer and police resources? Considering the facts of the case — animal in distress rescued, police called by the Good Samaritan, waiting for police to arrive to resolve the matter — it makes one wonder from what breakfast cereal box the DA found his JD degree.

  27. Cheryl

    Sep 5, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Rhis makes me terribly ill. I myself would have done the same thing. This 83 yr old fart needs to be truly educated about animals!! He really needs not to vave SNY pet if he is so stupid about taking proper care of a any pet!! No wonder he doesn’t want to show his ugly face on camera. What happebed to just common sense??? How would he like it to be tied up for 15-20 min. whth scorching hot weather and no water. and let him go with no shoes to protect HIS feet just to feel how hot pavement gets. This human truly needs himself to try out the heat the way a poor animal has to go through!?! We need more truly humane people in our world like the one who saved him!!! Maybe the next time someone just might steal the dog instead of just caring for it for a few minutes! This particular old man needs to learn a lesson a very hard wy and himself be fined largely! This world is definitely going ass-backwards.

  28. Ellen Silverberg

    Sep 5, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    I’d do the same thing!!!

  29. Judy

    Sep 5, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Why was the dog’s “owner” not arrested? Oh yeah… that’s right… we’re talking about Florida here. The embarrassment of the U.S. Oh and an 84 year old who lives in Florida. Shocking. That dog is elderly. Elderly dogs are less immune to assaults like excessive heat. That old man should be arrested for cruelty to animals and thrown in jail. He doesn’t deserve a dog. And what is so wrong with leaving the dog at home when he runs errands? And why is he even driving at that age? That’s terrifying.

    • Cheryl

      Sep 5, 2013 at 1:15 pm

      This makes me terribly ill. I myself would have done the same thing. This 83 yr old fart needs to be truly educated about animals!! He really needs not to have ANY pet if he is so stupid about taking proper care of a any pet!! No wonder he doesn’t want to show his ugly face on camera. What happened to just common sense??? How would he like it to be tied up for 15-20 min. with scorching hot weather and no water. and let him go with no shoes to protect HIS feet just to feel how hot pavement gets. This human truly needs himself to try out the heat the way a poor animal has to go through!?! We need more truly humane people in our world like the one who saved him!!! Maybe the next time someone just might steal the dog instead of just caring for it for a few minutes! This particular old man needs to learn a lesson a very hard way and himself be fined largely! This world is definitely going ass-backwards.

      • margo

        Sep 5, 2013 at 6:29 pm

        i personally would have just stolen the dog and drove off with it,then more than likely, i would not face charges cuz nobody would come forward with evidence against me to get me arrested cuz EVERYBODY KNOWS that i did the right thing. that would also save the old man from facing charges cuz if he reported his dog missing he would have to admit his wrongdoing. and the dog would live happily ever after without ever having to face heat stress again…it would be a win win.and the police would not have to waste taxpayers money investigating a crime that never happened..tada.problem solved.
        not doing anything while the dogs feet scalded and the old man coming out to find a dead dog,and the possibility of little children seeing a dead dog tied to an SUV asking “why” would be a shameful thing…and an old man at that age might be suffering dementia and actually forgot the dog and drove away,dragging the dog down the road,still tied to the SUV…disgusting…..all stores should have signs on doors:”if u leave ur pets/kids in the car while shopping here and someone reports u to customer service, we will no longer serve u as a customer, and we will press charges and post ur picture on our bulletin board…etc…”

  30. Carrie

    Sep 5, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    A dog just died at the NY state fair because the $&@@#&& “owner” was too busy drinking at the fair. People avoided helping because they were afraid of getting arrested for breaking the window to rescue the dog. NEVER HESITATE!!! He didn’t steal the dog you idiots…. He saved him!!! Where are the charges for the “owner” of this poir baby?!?!? Snd he is an admitted repeated offender!! DISGUSTING!!

    • Cheryl

      Sep 5, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      Don’t we ALL know how much the human race is regressing? These type of so called humans really need to be put out of their own misery

  31. Nancy F

    Sep 5, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    why is doing the right, humane thing for this poor animal the wrong thing to have done in Florida? Don’t those people there have any sense? How much better off the US would be to rid themselves of these states that drag the whole country down with their draconian, archaic rules. Pathetic!

    • jac

      Sep 6, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      Yes you are right… The rules are you touch my property then it is the last thing you touch…. no problem..

  32. Joyce Henderson

    Sep 5, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Where do we go to list public outcry? And help this man get out of the charges???????? This is ridiculous! He did the right thing. The police should have removed the dog from the owner, don’t give a rat’s patoot what his age is!!! We need to scream and scream LOUD!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Cheryl

      Sep 5, 2013 at 1:16 pm

      I totally agree! All the super STUPID humans come to FLA!

  33. Terri Brown

    Sep 5, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    GOOD FOR HIM, I WOULD OF DONE THE VERY SAME THING. WHY WASN’T THE OWNER ARESSTED HE SHOULD OF HE DON’T DESERVE TO HAVE ANIMAL. THE ANGEL THAT SAVED THE DOG WHAT A GOOD MAN….

  34. George

    Sep 5, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Tell them what you think on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ircsheriff

  35. Jenny

    Sep 5, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    I am an officer, and I believe the officer should have forwarded charges of Animal abuse also. Those temps, with the asphalt making it worse.

  36. Priscilla Cochran

    Sep 5, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Davey was 14. A senior dog. The owner was 83. A senior citizen. Tie the owner to a car in a hot parking lot and let him find out what his poor dog was going thru. But of course that would be considered cruel and inhuman punishment. That man does not deserve to have a pet. There should be a national
    listing of stupid pet owners and they should never be allowed to have another pet.

    • MaryAnn Beasley

      Sep 5, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      I agree that there should be a list of stupid pet owners. You may not be able to stop people from privately buying a pet but shelters and rescue societies should be required to consult it before turning over a previously abused or unwanted pet to a second stupid owner.

  37. Tami

    Sep 5, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Why didn’t they put the owner in jail for animal abuse? Why is the law protecting the stupid people who abuse these poor animals? They should be banned from ever owning one again. The law is ass backward at the animal’s expense. They are sending a message that’s its ok to abuse an animal if it belongs to you. Stupid jerks should be tied outside in the heat with no water for hours & see how it feels. Bet they would change the law then.

  38. fabi

    Sep 5, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Last month I did almost the same thing. There was this dog inside of a car (in the sun),it was really hot that day, me and my mom took the dog from inside the car and put him in the shadow, and gave him water. I waited with him while my mom called the police telling them what we’ve done. The policeman said we had done the right thing and if his owner didnt come back soon, we should keep the dog O.o
    anyway, then I noticed the dog had his owners phone number on the collar. we called him and after a few minutes his owner came back. He understood what we had done, and explain what happend to have left the dog in the car, his friend was in the hospital, in the ER….he then took the dog with him. nothing like that 83 year-old stupid man

  39. Colleen

    Sep 5, 2013 at 11:47 am

    I’m totally disgusted by this. I would have done the same thing. I just don’t understand why people can’t get it through their thick skulls not to take their dogs with them when it’s hot. How hard is that? I hate leaving my dog at home too, but I’d rather keep him alive than take him. People like this should have the same thing done to them. More people need to get involved in these situations. The owner of the dog should have been arrested, and have the dog taken away from him. I agree with you Di. Kudos to DeMars, you saved a precious life.

  40. Nancy Natoli

    Sep 5, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Good for Him, I would of done the same thing.

    What is wrong with this world, if it was a child, would he have had charges against him

  41. Dina Salyers

    Sep 5, 2013 at 11:45 am

    WHY IN THE HELL WAS THE OWNER NOT ARRESTED FOR ANIMAL ABUSE. LEAVE THE SPCA HERO ALONE. HE DID THE RIGHT THING. PLACE THE CRIME WHERE IT TRULY BELONGS!!!

  42. Sara

    Sep 5, 2013 at 11:39 am

    I would have taken the dog to the local shelter

  43. Bob

    Sep 5, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Why aren’t charges of Animal Cruelty being lodged against the dog owner? That’s where the “real” crime occurred.

    • Christina

      Sep 5, 2013 at 2:12 pm

      Bob, I agree totally.

    • April

      Sep 6, 2013 at 4:28 pm

      Bob you are absolutely right. The two people who I see that committed any type of crime was the pet owner and the Sheriff. Maybe when they get to court they will get a judge who is an animal lover and he will turn the table. To the man who was brave enough to untie the dog Kudos to you. I am sure that there were people out there who saw the dog and walked by and did nothing..that is also criminal. People need to grow some balls and do what is right for these innocent animals who depend on human beings to be their voice, love them and keep them safe. I
      When it is hot out I don’t take my dog out, I wait until it starts to cool off. My dog is my child and he doesn’t know it is to hot outside for him, but I know.
      One thing I have learned sometimes you can’t fix STUPID

      • Miriam

        Sep 6, 2013 at 6:05 pm

        I agree with you April, something needs to be done. I don’t hold the sheriff at fault, he follows orders. I do believe the sheriff should have given the owner a citation. Until people like us who are animal lovers push for animal rights no matter what, nothing will change.

  44. Rachel

    Sep 5, 2013 at 11:38 am

    OMG! The very same thing happened to me at a PUBLIX in Tallahassee two days ago! It was at least a 100 degrees and this poor dog was in the car for over a half hour! I unlocked the door and took the dog out and fed it two bottles of water and waited for the idiot owner to come out of the store. 45 minutes minimum she would have been locked in that car! I calmly told the owner the danger of locking her dog in the car. We called the police and animal control. We also asked PUBLIX if they would make an announcement and they refused! I went back to the store last night and asked for clarification as to why in the world they wouldn’t make an announcement and all I was told is that they did it before and the person got mad?!?!?! So I said then I guess it’s ok according to PUBLIX to let a dog die in a car on their property?!!?!?!?! We need to do something about this!

    • Janet

      Sep 6, 2013 at 8:41 pm

      This is typical for Florida. Stupid owners and stupid authorities. The asphalt was 99 degrees via the temperature gun and he could have definitely gone in to heat stroke very easily with no physical effort. I hope the owner Robert Huffman rots in hell and does so soon!! And I don’t appreciate the waste of tax payer’s money that idiot Robert Huffman has caused by pressing charges against Van DeMars.

      • Janet

        Sep 6, 2013 at 8:42 pm

        God forbid Publix should make a abusive/neglectful dog owner mad at them!! Freaking wusses!

    • jac

      Sep 6, 2013 at 9:27 pm

      The dog inside a hot car and the dog tied to a leash outside are two different things….. A dog sitting under a car for shade or sitting under a porch at home for shade are not different.

      • Dawn

        Sep 6, 2013 at 10:33 pm

        The Publix in my neighborhood told me the same thing. I came across a dog in a car on a hot day and asked the customer service desk to make an announcement. They said they couldn’t and when I asked why, they said the customers get angry. I then asked them to call Animal control and/or the sheriff and they refused again. This time they told me it was because the parking lot did not belong to them, they were “renting” it from the land owner and anything that happens in the parking lot was not their responsibility. I stayed by the car and waited, when the owner came out I told her that she shouldn’t leave her dog in the car. She got mad and told me to mind my own business. I said this is my business. I also said I made a note of her license plate number and if I see her dog left in the car again, I would call then sheriff. I never did see her again. Businesses today are so concerned about “customer satisfaction” that they look the other way when they see bad behaviors. I say that who cares about the one when you have the many complaining. What does the business really want? The one customer that was obstinate and cruel or the 20 or so s/he pissed off????

  45. marguerite lagala

    Sep 5, 2013 at 11:36 am

    I would have done the same thing, shame on the owner, who the hell in there right mind would chain a dog up like that, and has done that several times, your going shopping leave the dog home, easy as that, I have 3 dogs and would never put my dogs in any danger,,

    • jac

      Sep 6, 2013 at 9:24 pm

      yeah, perhaps you are right. he could have left the animal in the back yard cage in the sun or even tied to the front steps.. or locked in the cool cellar… oops Florida no cellar…perhaps ….. tied in the back yard for when the neighbors dog up the street comes to attack… In all seriousness what is wrong with allowing the dog to be tied to the vehicle with leash length reaching under the vehicle into shade. The picture taken do not show the dog leash too tight. Why did he not release the dog when the owner returned…. George Zimmerman precedent comes to mind/…. Try taking my dog and if he doesn’t get you…. I will!

      • masser

        Sep 6, 2013 at 10:48 pm

        Bottom line, I don’t care what state you live in, Davey should have been left at home. I have a basement here in PA (irrelevant) and I still leave my animals to roam my entire house. Just because they’re in Florida doesn’t give a reason to tie Davey out on the pavement in the hot sun. At 83, the owner probably thought it was ok, but it isn’t! If you’re going to have a pet you should ask yourself, “would I be comfortable here?” If you don’t want to be tied to a vehicle in 90° weather (our any weather) why would you do it to your pet?

      • RubyB

        Sep 9, 2013 at 8:13 pm

        jac said, “In all seriousness what is wrong with allowing the dog to be tied to the vehicle with leash length reaching under the vehicle into shade. The picture taken do not show the dog leash too tight.”

        The article clearly states the dog was strangling himself trying to get under the car. To me, the picture clearly backs up that statement. I encourage you to watch the video. It is very clear that the dog cannot get under the car.

        Also, asphalt, even in the minimal shade under the car is extremely hot. this is a real problem for dogs, who cannot sweat like you and I do. Unless a parking lot is completely shaded by trees, it will be too hot for a dog.

        Also, in the video you can see the dog panting heavily, his tongue hanging out. As it clearly states, that is the fist sign of dangerous heat stroke. Would you have left the dog tied up if you could clearly see that it was in distress? If you would have left the dog tied up, what are your reasons for doing so?

      • Valerie

        Sep 11, 2013 at 9:23 pm

        Please look closer at the video Jac. The leash is tied at the rear top hatch of the vehicle and the dog is out the rear passenger door. The leash is pulled so tight that it is pulling up his neck. The dog was suffering from extreme heat and didn’t have the strength to climb back into to vehicle. Left unattended much longer and the dog would have had a heat stroke or choked to death. I guess that doesn’t matter as long as the dog didn’t die now does it! We don’t see some kid in distress and just walk by saying “Oh let his mom take care of him when she returns to the car” and nor should we with animals.

  46. Kyle Stearnes

    Sep 5, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Completely ridiculous for this man to be arrested for helping a dog. All he did was help the dog get to a cooler place until the police or owner arrived. He didn’t steal the dog or drive off, although now I feel that he should have. There are some truly dumb___ people in this world with no common sense. I’d be happy to donate to the man’s legal fees if need be.

  47. Daniel

    Sep 5, 2013 at 11:34 am

    The first thing I would of done the same thing.
    As for the lowlife owner he does not deserve the dog .
    The scumbag sheriff needs to get a life an quit wasting the tax payers money on something like that. I think your a real asshole sheriff dickhead.

  48. tina lafever

    Sep 5, 2013 at 11:29 am

    i think he did the right thing. the dogs owner most likely wouldnt have stayed until the police showed up. maybe Davy’s owner will leave him at home from now on when it is to hot.

  49. Di

    Sep 5, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Next time, steal the dog altogether and leave the authorities out of it. This is utterly ridiculous to be punished for doing the right thing…

    • Mary

      Sep 5, 2013 at 2:29 pm

      He did the right thing & the police fucked up the sysyem….the police should have FINED Robert Huffman. Something’s wrong with the system. DeMars is the SPCA President & he DID the right thing by saving the dog. That police ought to have his brain examined. I would PUNCH Huffman’s face for what he did to the dog.

    • Vic

      Sep 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm

      He was trying to get justice for the dog. Failing that, he was making a point. This is an animal rights issue. Is ownership of the dog a priority over cruelty to it? I guess we got our answer.. In the vehicle area of law, many states (if not all) have comparative fault. Sometimes it’s justified that everybody gets a ticket, for failure to wear seat belt if nothing else, but when it comes to something like this, the owner doesn’t get a citation for cruelty- unless the dog dies and it’s proven that his action (or lack of it) caused the dog’s death. Then the penalty is usually a slap on the wrist. Tammy Grimes of Dogs Deserve Better (whose organization bought the Michael Vick property & turned it into a rescue) had to wait 15 mo. for her trial for taking Doogie (who only lived 5 mo. after being rescued)& refusing to give him back to the owners who neglected him. Part of her punishment was being ordered to remove any reference to this incident anyplace she had any authority over. You CAN see the whole story on you tube (by an independent poster) if you do a search for Doogie, though.

    • CJ

      Sep 5, 2013 at 3:50 pm

      How is it theft when the owner got the dog back? Stupid system.

      • George

        Sep 6, 2013 at 8:23 pm

        It became theft when the owner asked for the dog back and the guy refused. Not right, but that’s how it is. He should have given the guy the leash and then given the police the information.

        • Valerie

          Sep 11, 2013 at 9:12 pm

          Actually, he was with a volunteer police officer and they told him to hold onto the dog until animal control arrived. Those volunteers were in contact with the sheriff’s office when they gave him that advice. Therefore, Mr. DeMars was just doing what he was being advised to do. Everything else he did was within the letter of the law. Animal cruelty is a criminal act and had Mr. DeMars not have taken that dog out of that situation it could have turned critical for the poor dog. We shouldn’t wait until the dog is near death to do something and the owner should have been the one taken into custody.

    • Melissa Donley

      Sep 6, 2013 at 3:47 pm

      I Completely Concur!

    • Roger

      Sep 7, 2013 at 6:56 am

      If the man contacted the authorities and told them what he was doing shouldn’t that be reason enough to hold the animal until the authorities came? If someone comes on my property I have the right to hold them until the authorities come without being charged with kidnaping, what is the difference with animal cruelty? Has the dogs owner been charged with neglect, animal cruelty, endangering an animals life, or don’t these things matter. I understand the owner is not happy, but what about the dogs rights? I would have done the same thing and then called authorities and animal control to remove the dog from the owner. Hope the judge sees what is truly going on and charges the dogs owner.

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