MESA, Ariz. - It's the day every shelter dog dreams about: The day they get to go home with their new family.
But for Adler, a beautiful and beloved boxer mix, that day ended in death.
“For lack of a better term, just ignorance,” said Melissa Gable, a spokesperson for Maricopa County Animal Care and Control, who talked with 12 News about Adler’s death.
“You send these dogs home thinking they're going to a family good and that they’re going to be happy,” she said.
“To get the message back that he didn't survive was devastating for a lot of folks.”
MCACC’s East Valley shelter is where Adler’s adopting family found him.
Unbeknownst to shelter workers, Gable said Adler's adopting family didn't have a vehicle to take him home in.
So, despite it being around 107 degrees, they walked him the nearly four miles home.
“Not realizing how dangerous that can be, especially in Phoenix during the summer with our extreme heat,” Gable said.
Adler made it to his new home, but soon after collapsed and died, likely from heat exhaustion.
Gables said the family is also devastated by what happened.
“They are very remorseful, very upset. They feel horrible,” she said.
“They walk everywhere. That's what they do.”
Devastated by Adler’s death, shelter workers are now hoping it serves as a tragic warning to others, not to test Mother Nature.
“Take your shoes off and walk around barefoot, if it's too hot for you, it's too hot for your dog,” said Gable, “I think we tend to think they're tough and from the wild.”
One thing that has stirred controversy online is that the adopting family now wants to adopt another dog from the facility, and MCACC leaders have agreed to let them.
It’s a decision even Gable struggled to understand at first.
“I personally have struggled with it, but we also want our shelters to be a resource and don't want to scare people away,” she said.
Gable said the family planned on making Adler an inside dog and had good intentions of giving him a good life.
In the end, she didn’t see the benefit of punishing them and keeping another shelter dog from being adopted to a family.
An internal email showed the family said they gave themselves and Adler water during the walk.
The decision to allow them to adopt another dog came from the director of the agency, Mary Martin, who in the email cited discussions they'd had with the family regarding their access to veterinary care and continuing education on the dangers of the extreme heat.
Gable said she can only hope the loss of Adler raises community awareness about the dangers of the heat and how people can protect their pets.
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