The Toledo Area Humane Society (TAHS) closed its investigation of two incidents involving Toledo Mayor Carleton Finkbeiner and his dog, Scout, whom the mayor left in his car.
Finkbeiner received a $100 ticket from police for parking in a handicapped space, but will face no further citations from TAHS, which is authorized to charge individuals with a misdemeanor for endangering their pets by leaving them in hot cars or other hazardous conditions.
Sherri Miller, TAHS spokesperson, said that through the investigation agents found lack of evidence to pursue the case. The primary reason, she explained, lies in the fact that agents could not respond to the scene in time to ascertain the level of distress Scout may have endured. She also said it is apparent the mayor did not intend to cause harm to his dog.
“Therefore we had no firsthand information such as the temperature inside the mayor’s car, the condition of Scout, you know all the things that had we been called to the scene, we could have accurately recorded,” Miller said. “So from that point of view, we found lack of evidence, and we also feel it was lack of criminal intent. I mean, we don’t believe the mayor would have ever intentionally harmed his dog.”
TAHS agents viewed video from local news stations, and Greg Bloomfield, TAHS president and CEO, met with the mayor to discuss the situation. The dog appeared to be in good condition, even sitting up when most dogs distressed by heat would lie down and pant heavily.
Finkbeiner did, however, agree to participate in a public service announcement (PSA) warning pet owners of the dangers of heat stroke in dogs. Although hoping to produce the PSA sometime next week, Miller added, no “firm date and time” has been determined.
“The mayor is fully aware of what could have happened to Scout and knows that he was wrong in leaving him in the car …” she said.
Miller also encouraged the public to contact TAHS when encountering a dog locked in a car during hot weather. The two TAHS agents remain on duty rotation 24 hours, and after business hours anyone can call the police to report an incident, regardless of which community the violation occurs. Police either take appropriate action based on their assessment or contact TAHS representatives who respond immediately.
Finkbeiner could not be reached for comment on Friday, Aug. 31.
To report possible pet endangerment, call (419) 891-0705.