“Desperate panting (windows fogged up).”
The street address. The make and model of the vehicle. The license plate number. A number to call for more information.
All those details were provided by Madelyn McCabe, an employee at Rehm’s Nursery in Northeast Albuquerque, in a call to report a parked SUV where five dogs were abandoned – and ultimately left to die inside.
McCabe made the report in a call to the city’s 311 citizen help line around noon April 4.
She was expecting a quick response from the city’s Animal Welfare Department and said that at that time she saw only one distressed dog inside the unventilated vehicle.
“Dog locked in cart (sic) 1/2 block north on Alvarado on the street just north of ally (sic) from Rehm’s,” reads the 311 note, describing the vehicle’s location near Alvarado and Lomas NE.
McCabe also provided the phone number for the nursery but said no one tried to reach her again after the initial call.
She said she had thought someone would arrive to assist the animal and left work in the afternoon.
But by 4 p.m., as outside temperatures reached the 70s, other Rehm’s employees realized that no one had seen anyone from Animal Welfare’s field operations team come by. They checked the vehicle, and now it looked like at least two dogs were dead.
Rehm’s employee Joshua Deale called police at 4:20 p.m.
“There’s two dogs that are dead inside,” Deale told a 911 operator. “We called animal control and nobody ever came out.”
By the time police arrived 25 minutes later, all five of the animals had perished in the heat.
After the tragedy, Animal Welfare told the Journal the field officer had been “unable to locate” the vehicle – which also had its blinking hazard lights on.
Mayor Tim Keller ordered the department to investigate the incident soon after the animals died.
But when asked again about the employee’s inability to locate the car in light of the amount of information found on the 311 recording, Animal Welfare spokeswoman Desiree Cawley responded with an email:
“We launched a full investigation, and the driver who neglected to find the vehicle with the dogs inside is no longer with the City. We are committed to ensuring that the Animal Welfare Department is implementing best practices to prevent tragic events like this from happening again.”
Cawley wrote in a later email that “during the investigation of the incident, that employee resigned.”
The woman accused of abandoning the dogs, 31-year-old Sara Mauter, is being held at the county jail and faces five charges of extreme cruelty to animals.
Annette Rosenow, the owner of the dogs, has said she was moving to Texas and hired Mauter and her boyfriend to help transport 11 of her dogs to her new home after posting an ad on Craigslist.
The remaining animals were safely returned to Rosenow, who faces dozens of animal-related offenses in Torrance County, where she lived, and Albuquerque. Charges include failure to vaccinate and unsafe transporting of animals in vehicles.