It was bad enough last summer when some pet parents subjected their poor dogs to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Now an unidentified man in Massachusetts has forced his dog into ice-cold water for a charity “Polar Plunge” — and is facing no animal cruelty charges for doing so.
Saturday’s Polar Plunge event in Wilbraham, Mass., allowed people who made a donation to Special Olympics Massachusetts to jump through a hole in the ice into the freezing-cold Spec Pond. The air temperature Saturday was in the low teens.
Soon after the fundraiser, photos appeared on Facebook of a large, scared-looking yellow Lab being pushed by a man into the pond. Outraged animal lovers left comments blaming Special Olympics Massachusetts for allowing this to happen.
Yesterday the organization released a statement saying it most certainly did not condone the dog’s involuntary participation in its Polar Plunge.
“We are very shocked and disappointed that this happened at what has consistently been a great community event,” the statement said.
But then the Wilbraham Police Department released a rather dismissive statement of its own yesterday on its Facebook page (which is down today “for some modifications,” according to the department’s website). The gist of the statement: The owner said his dog loved swimming in cold water, so what was the problem?
“The owner of the dog is very upset over the situation,” the statement read, according to MassLive.com. “The owner would like everyone to know he has no children and treats his dog as his child. The owner stated that the dog loves the water and at no time was he attempting to hurt the animal. We thank everyone for their concern.”
The statement said police officers and officials from the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) observed the dog for a few days after the event, and the dog would be examined by a veterinarian. The dog “appeared to be in perfect health,” the statement said.
MSPCA spokesman Rob Halpin told MassLive.com there will be no criminal investigation into the incident, even though he admitted the agency is “shocked and disgusted” by it.
“It’s obviously not how people are supposed to treat a dog, but it doesn’t constitute a violation of the state’s animal cruelty statute,” Halpin said.
While Wilbraham police insist the owner didn’t force his dog into the water, Chris Richie, marketing and communications manager for Massachusetts Special Olympics Massachusetts, told MassLive.com that witnesses had told him otherwise.
“The dog ran away, but the man fetched him, brought him back to the edge and then pushed him in,” Richie said.
Richie said that in the future, dogs will more clearly be banned from such events because it was “shocking, disturbing and not cool. In no way, shape or form can we have any animals around, near or in the water.”
Today the City of Wilbraham released this video of the incident. Do you think charges should be filed?
Photos via MassLive.com, YouTube