The tragic end of Milton: Guide dog dies after trainers leave him in hot van for over 5 hours
A trainer reportedly left a dog in a hot van for more than five hours, which caused a blind and deaf Long Island woman to lose her cherished guide dog. According to Michelle Krupa, Milton, a Labrador retriever, was her "guardian angel."
The three-year-old black lab was left in the van from 10 am to 3:30 pm on Friday, July 22, when temperatures reached over 90 degrees, according to the staff at the Guide Dog Foundation. Krupa remarked, "He was right there by me all the time. I just don't know how I'm going to survive without him, which makes me sad."
The distraught dog owner revealed to WPIX-11 that she spent 15 years looking for the ideal dog before the charitable Guide Dog Foundation brought Milton to her.
On the day of his passing, foundation-employed trainers had intended to take him for a stroll, but plans changed and they failed to remember to bring Milton to the car, according to Krupa. "It was warm. Plans got changed. And they left him in the van like he was going out," she told the station.
"They claimed that they didn't believe something like this could ever occur. And therein lies the issue. Humans are fallible, so you can't rely on them to be perfect," she continued.
Tom, her husband, lamented the effect the loss of the dog would have on his wife on Facebook. "He was a member of our family in addition to being a guide dog. He served as both my pet and Michelle's window to the outside world," he wrote.
"He gave Michelle the ability to go out without reservation, and have confidence both in herself and in the world that he was protecting her. Now he’s gone, and although it was a tragic accident, she again faces the world and alone.....Milton, I may not have told you often enough, but I and we love you. Rest In Peace my good boy, someday we’ll see you again. I just hope that when you’re in heaven, you can be everything you were to us….. and know we miss you and love you so much!” he continued.
The Krupas will probably obtain their next guide dog from the same nonprofit that has trained hundreds of dogs free of charge. The foundation told CBS2 it is "taking immediate steps to review this tragic event to mitigate the potential of this ever happening again. If and when [Krupa is] ready to be matched with a successor dog, the foundation will be ready."
Although Krupa is aware that she needs a new guide dog, she must first deal with the loss. "Anyone can do this if experts can do it. In our hectic lives, we all need to be reminded that our lives are not just our own. We are here to look after other creatures," said Krupa.
As good as the foundation is, Tom Krupa said, "I just find it astounding that even after all this time, they don't have some sort of checking-in system."
The tragedy, according to the Suffolk County SPCA, serves as yet another warning to never leave a dog alone in a car, even with the window cracked. On a 90-degree day, the car is 110 degrees inside after 10 minutes and quickly turns into a furnace, they said. The devastated staff of the Guide Dog Foundation has been offered counseling in the meanwhile.