Dog owner raises concerns after 'man's best friend' of 15 years dies while in animal control custody

Venus, pictured in front

A Birmingham man expressed concerns to ABC 33/40 Wednesday after his 15-year-old dog was picked up by BJC Animal Control{}last week{}and died during transport. Although it's unclear how the dog died, the dog owner{}believes heat may be a contributing factor.

Venus, a blue heeler, was running loose{}in Brad Spark's neighborhood before an animal control officer picked{}her up{}around 12:50 p.m. August 22.

"That wasn't anything shocking," said Sparks. "I knew she frequently got out of the fence."

Sparks said his wife contacted the shelter within 15 minutes of{}the dog's{}transport to express concerns about her age and a previous injury. She was told by a shelter worker that if{}an animal{}was injured, the vehicle would return to the shelter early.

When Sparks' wife and four-year-old son arrived{}at the shelter around 4 p.m., they were{}notified that{}Venus had died on the way to the facility.

"No dog should suffer in August heat in Alabama and be driven around in a metal box for three hours," said Sparks. "I don't{}even think for an hour, especially when we live three miles from the shelter."

BJC Animal Control's policy is that an animal cannot be in a transport vehicle for more than four hours. Venus was in the vehicle for approximately two and a half hours. The vehicles have no air conditioning for the animals but do{}provide fans and water, if needed.

Veterinarian Nicole Metcalf did{}not know whether the facility received the concerned call from Sparks' wife. Metcalf said the animal control officer didn't see any injuries on{}Venus{}and added that although Venus was panting, she did not appear to be in distress.

"If we had to do it over again and we knew that this outcome was going to happen, we would try to get the dog in sooner," said Metcalf. "We impound anywhere from{}10,000 to{}12,000{}animals a year, and we don't have this happen very often."

None of{}the animals transported with Venus died, and Metcalf said no animal appeared to be in distress. {}