Followup: No crime in the case of ‘Zipper’ the dog, says Seattle Animal Shelter

May 23, 2013 at 3:23 pm | In Pets, West Seattle news | 16 Comments

Remember the case of a dog found in a car at Westwood Village? The Seattle Animal Shelter promised to announce when its investigation was finished – and that announcement has just come via this update on its website, The Scoop:

As previously reported in The Scoop, on Sunday April 21, the Seattle Police Department (SPD) removed a small dog, Zipper, from a vehicle in a West Seattle grocery store parking lot. Included in the original police report was a witness statement that the car had been in the same spot for six days, prompting speculation that Zipper may have been locked inside without food or water during that entire time. If this turned out to be true, it would have been a clear case of animal neglect and/or cruelty, which the Animal Shelter, the SPD and the City of Seattle take very seriously.

We received numerous calls from people checking on Zipper’s welfare from as far away as Florida and New York. We sincerely appreciate the public concern and support for Zipper, as it is the mission of the Seattle Animal Shelter to foster safe, healthy and caring relationships between people and animals in our community. However, Zipper’s situation is an example of why it is important for us to be able to conduct a thorough investigation before jumping to conclusions with only limited information.

We also want to recognize the patience and understanding of Zipper’s owners, who have been distraught over the allegations of abuse made in online forums, as well as the separation from Zipper. They have been fully cooperative during our investigation and have complied with all requests made of them.

As with any case of potential animal mistreatment, the Seattle Animal Shelter opened an investigation. Over the last four weeks, Zipper was cared for by animal care staff at the Shelter while the investigation was conducted. The investigation is now complete, with the Animal Shelter staff concluding that no crime was committed. As such, Zipper has been reunited with his owners. Evidence collected during our investigation, which included numerous witness statements and a search of the vehicle, did not support the widespread speculation that Zipper had been left in the vehicle for up to six days. All evidence points to Zipper being left in the vehicle for a few hours during the evening he was taken in by police. While not ideal, and an absolute no-no in warmer months, leaving an animal in a vehicle for a short time is not illegal unless other circumstances pose a threat to the animal’s welfare (e.g., extreme cold weather, access to dangerous items that could be ingested or cause bodily harm, vulnerability to dog-napping if vehicle is unlocked, etc.).

During his time at the Animal Shelter, staff observed Zipper to be happy and energetic. The original police report stated that he appeared to be emaciated, but his eating habits over his four-week stay at the Shelter and a visit to the vet confirmed that while he could stand to gain a couple pounds, he is healthy, energetic and just one of those dogs that is extremely fit.

Finally, this also is a good opportunity to remind pet owners that the best way to ensure we can find you if your pet is found wandering or retrieved in a situation like Zipper’s is to make sure it is licensed and microchipped. It’s also a good idea to have a personalized tag with your contact information alongside the license on his or her collar.

16 Comments

  1. Not sure of what to think on the outcome of this case…But if NOTHING else, let it be a reminder to all of us that if you would not leave your child in a similar situation it is PROBABLY not the best idea for your pet!! Especially with warmer weather coming our way, eventually, folks are watching out for our 4 legged pets. How embarrassing it would be to come back to your car to find a window busted out & police waiting for you! Use your heads people!!!

    Comment by Ms Pam — 4:07 pm May 23, 2013 #

  2. Seattle Animal Shelter is very thorough with there investigations, hence, why it took so long.

    Leaving you pet in a parked car is not the best idea,especially in hot weather. On a 70 degree day, the inside of a car can heat up quickly enough to kill your pet. And…there are people that will steal your pet out of the car. Best to keep your pet with you, or at home.

    Comment by Teri Ensley — 5:06 pm May 23, 2013 #

  3. I strongly agree with Teri…even when you think it’s cool weather, the inside of a car can get hot pretty quickly. Leave them home or with you.

    Comment by onceachef — 6:47 pm May 23, 2013 #

  4. It was an evening, folks. No sun. No overheating in the car. Read the story and get a clue.

    Comment by Ach duLieber — 2:38 am May 24, 2013 #

  5. thanks for posting the follow up. very glad to learn for zipper’s sake that the evidence doesn’t support him having been left in the car for days. i agree they shouldn’t have left him in there for hours, however, evening or not.

    Comment by SD — 8:48 am May 24, 2013 #

  6. Even in evenings, cars can warm up. You, too should read the article where it says, ” While not ideal, and an absolute no-no in warmer months”

    Comment by LBJane — 8:48 am May 24, 2013 #

  7. how about pressing charges on the person that filed the complaint and lied saying the dog had been there 6 days,

    Comment by Pauline Aldrich — 9:13 am May 24, 2013 #

  8. I personally believe all of the people who believed the owners/dogsitter was to blame should now publically apologize.

    Comment by rs — 9:14 am May 24, 2013 #

  9. Did the owners have to pay for the boarding of the dog? That would have royally pissed me off and I would sue, for damages, the person that said the car had been there for days.

    Comment by tk — 9:21 am May 24, 2013 #

  10. I disagree that you must always leave your dog at home. While we would never take our dog out and leave her in a car on a warm day, she sure does love a car ride. We take good care to make sure she gets water and a chance to walk; we take her in with us when we can; we don’t park in the sun; and even on days that feel chilly to us we leave all the windows down at least a couple of inches as we know it doesn’t feel as chilly to her. This way she gets to run some errands with us, which she loves. @onceachef, you know us and you know we take care of our pets. It comes down to knowing a pet’s boundaries–we’d never drag our cats out for errands, for example, because they’d hate it–and then behaving responsibly.

    Comment by Ms. Picky — 11:22 am May 24, 2013 #

  11. The false accusation should be prosecuted; and it shouldn’t take 4 weeks to investigate. Its easy enough to determine if a dog is healthy. Ridiculous.

    Comment by Laura — 11:35 am May 24, 2013 #

  12. Very glad to hear of Zipper being reunited! He was a very happy boy at our clinic where we did his neuter.

    Congrats to the owners, we all knew you’d get him back!

    Comment by Sld — 1:17 pm May 24, 2013 #

  13. I would like to add to this conversation about leaving them in cars. One of my fears when I see dogs tied up outside stores and resteraunts probably came true for the owners of the little black Pom that is on the WSB Pets page, and was also featured on the TV news. Although I do not own a dog, I often thought if I ever would leave it out of sight, even ‘for a moment’. Most of the population is decent, there is that small percentage that should make ALL animal owners cautious. My point being to think of the pets welfare first when deciding to leave your home. Is it safe in the vehicle for 5-10 mins? Can I tie it up and have constant view and running time to stop a thief from infront of an establishment? If not, leave your pet at home and give ample outside quality play time when you can be with your beloved one. Put some selfishness aside and arrange errand time and dog walk time appropriately. Think ahead what terror your pet ‘might’ be put through before leaving home. They come 1st.

    Comment by KD — 5:52 pm May 24, 2013 #

  14. It’s pretty obvious here which commenters have the attitude of “it’s just a dog”. When I first moved to Seattle, someone left a note on my car about my dog being left inside (with windows down on a ~70 degree day for about 10 minutes). At first I was annoyed, then I realized it was nice to live in a place where people actually care about animals, very much unlike the place I moved from.

    Comment by Ajax — 1:06 am May 26, 2013 #

  15. This is a tough one for certain dog owners like me. I have a rescued dog who I adopted, and she had separation anxiety so severe when I first brought her home seven years ago that I had to take her everywhere with me in the car. She was always calm and did great in the car- it was, and still is, her safe place. She *loves* to go for car rides and equally loves people watching when parked. It provides her needed mental stimulation vs sitting at home doing nothing. In the fall through spring, when it’s between 50-70 I take her everywhere with me. And not just short trips either. She always has a big bowl of fresh water and I always leave the windows well cracked if its warm and sunny. She loves the heat and sun and lays in the sun when it’s as much as 95 degress out, but I dont leave her in the car when it’s warm because I’m worried about other people, not because her health and safety are at risk. Now I’m thinking I should leave a note on the window telling any concerned dog lovers that she’s ok. I would be devastated if she had to live in a shelter for four weeks. Sad that the people went through this.

    Comment by Doggirlseattle — 11:13 am May 26, 2013 #

  16. I have to agree with Doggirlseattle and Ms. Picky. I love my dog and would probably leap in front of a moving car to save his life. He’s that special to me. I’m quite aware of what conditions are not safe for a dog. But frankly, I’m way more wary of some do-gooder citizen bashing in my window on a 58-degree evening than the possibility my dog will be exposed to environmental harm.

    It’s nice that people care. But folks can be terribly judgmental about these things. I once had a friend’s step-father literally throw up his hands and walk away in disdain/disgust/dismay when he discovered my dog had been in my car for 45 minutes on a 45-degree night. Those aren’t even dangerous conditions for a human sleeping outside, and it sure isn’t dangerous for a dog curled up in the back seat of a car.

    Comment by Oliver — 8:00 pm May 28, 2013 #

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