Four pit bull puppies, baking in an abandoned car without food and water for more than eight hours, were rescued by police and animal control officers last week.
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The only fresh air for the 10-week-old dogs came from a small opening in a window of the car, in the Bahama Village neighborhood of Key West.
On Thursday, the day the dogs were found, the high in Key West was 82 degrees, with a heat index — how hot it actually feels — reaching 88, according to the National Weather Service. In a car with closed windows, it climbs much higher.
By the time police found the trapped pups, they were wading in their own feces that had piled up inside the car. The puppies were in good condition Friday but on their way to a veterinarian for full check-ups and treatment of poor skin conditions.
"They're sweet little things," said Matt Royer, director of operations at the Florida Keys SPCA, based in Key West. "They're going to the vet. They'll all be fine, they just look rough."
AT about 1:20 p.m. Thursday, Officers Frank Betz and Todd Stevens responded to an anonymous report of dogs in distress, stuck in a beat-up Crown Victoria sedan in a parking lot on Fort Street behind the Fort Village public housing complex, 1020 Emma St.
For now, the four puppies are evidence in a criminal investigation that could result in charges of animal cruelty. They are not up for adoption and not owned by the shelter, Royer said.
Police had no reports available Friday, said spokeswoman Alyson Crean, but Royer said the Crown Vic belongs to a couple the SPCA has had run-ins with before over their treatment of puppies — some they brought from Miami.
Four days before the puppies were found, the man the SPCA has linked to the Crown Vic was jailed on charges of criminal mischief and burglary.
Jaboa Brown, 32, listed by police as homeless, was arrested May 15 and on Friday was still locked up in the Marathon county jail on $18,000 bond.
The Crown Vic had been parked at the Fort Street lot since 8:30 a.m. Thursday, witnesses told police.
"Those puppies could have died in that car," Royer said. "They couldn't have gotten out" without human aid.
The puppy rescue was the second incident of alleged animal cruelty Key West had in a week.
On May 14, police were called to the 600 block of United Street where they found a small white dog muzzled and crated inside a Chevrolet Silverado pickup with Montana plates.
The dog was inside a kennel without water or food and had staining on his face from the muzzle, Royer said. A gray cat also was found inside the truck, which measure 91 degrees, police said.
A neighbor called police after a stranger knocked on his front door to ask if he owned the truck because a dog was inside barking. Police tracked down the truck's owner, Kristin Ryznar, 37, who gave police a Montana address.
Ryznar later said she had left the pets inside the truck for only a few minutes while she "ran up the street," SPCA officials said.
Wednesday, she was cited for leaving an animal in a vehicle without adequate ventilation and is due in Monroe County Court June 15.