Dog Of SPCA Leader Dies In Hot Car

 |  Aug 27th 2009  |   38 Contributions


The CEO of Richmond's SPCA, Robin Starr, left her 16-year-old dog in her car where he suffered heat stroke and later died.

The blind and deaf dog was put into the backseat of the car by Starr's husband Ed because she often took him to work with her. Unfortunately her husband forgot to tell her and she didn't realize until four hours later that Louie, their cocker spaniel/poodle mix, was in there.

Here are the details from the Richmond Times Dispatch.

It wasn't until she left her office about noon that day -- after the dog had spent nearly four hours alone in the car -- that she discovered Louie in the back of the station wagon, showing signs of heat stroke.

She took the dog inside to the SPCA clinic, where it was stabilized and taken to the Veterinary Emergency Center in Carytown. Veterinarians worked unsuccessfully to restore kidney function in Louie, and the dog died about midnight.

"I just forgot . . . and didn't think about it until I got this frantic phone call from Robin. I knew immediately what I had done," Ed Starr recalled yesterday at the SPCA offices on Hermitage Road.

He added, "It wasn't her fault. It was mine."

Robin Starr has been one of the area's most outspoken advocates for animals. While her supporters are standing by her there are those that think she should resign. I cannot imagine anything more painful than knowing your beloved dog died on account of your actions.

For those that wonder how could this happen, it's easier than you think. Children have died after parents have forgotten they were in the car, remember the mom who forgot to drop off her child at daycare? The child was in the backseat, imagine if your dog-who doesn't make any noise- is in the very back of your station wagon.

Ed Sayres, president and chief executive of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, expressed his support for Starr yesterday, saying the ASPCA "truly believes that this incident was a horrible and unfortunate accident."

Tamsen Kingry, the SPCA's chief operating officer, said yesterday that "the board of directors for the Richmond SPCA does not waver in their support of Robin Starr, and they will not in the future."

"While some might unfortunately call for Robin's resignation as a result of this horrible accident, it is imperative that we focus on the thousands of animals' lives that she has saved through her work with the Richmond SPCA," he said.

"Louie's death serves as a tragic lesson -- animals should never be left alone in a parked vehicle, and pet parents must stay vigilant when it comes to their pets' safety."

Starr has no intention of resigning from the position she has held since 1997. I completely agree with Sayres and Kingry, this was a horrible accident and focus should remain on all the good Starr has done throughout the years.

The Starrs have not been charged with any crime. I don't think there is any legal punishment you could give them that would be worse than their lifelong self-imposed sentence.

*Photo courtesy JOE MAHONEY/TIMES-DISPATCH

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