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Palo Alto Police Department
Tuesday October 26th, 2021 :: 04:29 p.m. PDT


News Release: Animal Shelter Employees Cited for In-Custody Puppy Deaths

Police cited three employees of the Pets In Need Palo Alto Animal Shelter for their role in the deaths of seven puppies who perished during transport from the Central Valley this summer.
On the morning of Tuesday, August 3, 2021, officers began an investigation into the deaths of seven pit bull / Labrador puppies that had occurred the previous day.  The investigation revealed that on Monday, August 2, the three employees had taken a Pets in Need van (a 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter) to the Central Valley to retrieve extra animals that other shelters could either not accommodate or had been unsuccessful in adopting out.  These transport trips are a routine activity for Pets In Need, who bring the animals back to their local facilities and put them up for adoption here instead.
The employees were gone for several hours on this transport trip and had picked up 27 dogs in total including seven puppies.  The puppies were from the same litter, were about three to four months old, and weighed about nine pounds each.  The van lacked air conditioning in the rear cargo area, and the employees did not provide water to the animals during transport.  The temperature in the Central Valley that afternoon was in the range of 90 to 100 degrees.  The suspects reported that none of the animals appeared distressed when checked on during a stop for gas in Los Banos on the way back to Palo Alto.  Upon arrival at the Palo Alto Animal Shelter, Pets In Need staff determined that the seven puppies were unresponsive.  The employees immediately summoned assistance from veterinary staff, who attempted to resuscitate the puppies without success.  All the other dogs in the van survived.
Detectives presented the case to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, who chose to file two misdemeanor charges (animal cruelty and neglect) against each of the three suspects.  A Santa Clara County Superior Court judge signed arrest warrants on October 25, and on the afternoon of October 26, detectives cited and released the suspects in accordance to standard protocol for non-violent misdemeanor warrants.
The suspects are 40-year-old Patricia Santana Valencia of East Palo Alto, 36-year-old Margaret C. Evans of Fremont, and 45-year-old Ingrid Anne Hartmann of San Carlos.  As they were cited, no booking photos are available.
Pets In Need has operated the Palo Alto Animal Shelter since 2019 under a contract with the City of Palo Alto.  The three suspects in this case work for Pets In Need, not the City of Palo Alto.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call our 24-hour dispatch center at (650) 329-2413.  Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to [email protected] or sent via text message or voice mail to (650) 383-8984.

Palo Alto Police Department
275 Forest Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94301

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 650-329-2406

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