Polar Plunge No Place for Pups (VIDEO)

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dog in massachusetts polar plunge

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.

dog in polar plunge

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

  • Tischa Weathers

    Article says: … heard from witnesses, the man brought the dog to the hole in the ice, and tried to get it to jump in. “The dog ran away but the man fetched him, brought him back to the edge and then pushed him in,” he said.

    Thus, the dog did not want to go in.

    If it was trained to go into cold water like the owner claims, why didn’t he just give it the command to do so rather than drag it to the water.

  • Lilly

    Charges should definitely be filed! The dog could have gone into shock, cut his leg on ice, or any number of other horrible side-effects. Even if nothing happens the dog could have long term issues later in life. It’s just wrong! I also agree with Tischa who commented above, if the dog was trained give the dog the command. Also, the dog ran away the first time for a reason, he knew it wasn’t good for him, its like making someone cut themselves. They wouldn’t do it themselves because they knew it would hurt them. Also, hey stupid do owner… YOU DO THE POLAR PLUNGE! HOW WOULD YOU LIKE IT IF SOMEONE DID THAT TO YOU!!!!???

  • km

    You do not throw the dog in the water at – temperatures if you want to do it go for it the dog did not want to I think he should be charged for animal cruelty with out a doubt if he is willing to do that to his dog who knows what else he would do, why are people stupid