Three employees of the Palo Alto Animal Shelter's Pets in Need were cited for animal cruelty and neglect after seven puppies died in transit in the midst of Central Valley summer heat, the Palo Alto Police Department announced on Tuesday.
On Aug. 2, the employees were picking up animals from Central Valley shelters that did not have enough capacity to care for them. Seven of the 27 dogs retrieved were Labrador-pit bull puppies, all from the same litter and about 3 to 4 months old.
The animals were placed in the rear cargo area of the Pets in Need van, which lacked air conditioning. The employees did not provide water to the animals, police said.
Central Valley temperatures rose from 90 to 100 degrees that afternoon.
The workers said they checked on the animals once at a gas station in Los Banos, and they appeared to be fine. Once they arrived in Palo Alto, the seven puppies were unresponsive. On-site veterinary staff were unable to revive the puppies.
The other 20 dogs survived, police said.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office filed two misdemeanor charges against the employees, and a judge issued arrest warrants on Monday. Per non-violent misdemeanor warrant policies, the suspects were cited and released on Tuesday.
Police urge anyone with more information on the incident to call the Palo Alto police 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413.