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Owner of dead dog says she left car, air on countless times

The owner of an English bulldog that died from heat exposure inside of her car said she left her dogs inside the vehicle with the air running “countless times,” according to police reports.

The owner told a police officer she took her English bulldogs with her everywhere and her gray GMC Yukon SUV never turned off before, according to Shorewood police reports obtained by the Joliet Herald-News in a Freedom of Information Act request.

However, an apparent “unknown malfunction” caused the car to turn off on Aug. 5 while two English bulldogs, Spike and Ruby, were inside the car and the woman, Marlene Miller, 64, was at Staples in Shorewood making copies. Only Ruby survived the deadly heat.

Miller did not respond to calls for comment from the Joliet Herald-News, a sister paper of The Times.

Shorewood police deemed Spike’s death accidental. The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office is reviewing the police reports and gathering additional evidence, including surveillance video from surrounding stores, said state’s attorney spokesman Charles B. Pelkie.

Pelkie said Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow “takes these cases very seriously.”

“He believes that people should care for their pets and they need to be responsible and follow the law with regard to protection of their pets,” he said.

Police reports show Miller was “inconsolable” and sobbing uncontrollably over the death of her “special guy,” Spike. Miller was so hysterical that one man at the scene thought he would need to call an ambulance.

Even three days later, when the Shorewood police officer interviewed Miller again about Spike’s death, she was crying “on and off during the entire phone call” and the officer had to wait several times for her to regain her composure to finish the interview, according to police reports.

Miller told the officer she rescued Spike 11 years ago when he was sick and had respiratory issues. She took him to a veterinarian and nursed him back to health for four months.

According to the heavily redacted reports, she “begged” the officer to check on something that was blacked out by the police. According to police reports, she said it would “prove she took the best care of her pets.”

Miller said that her vehicle never turned off before but now she is selling it because “she cannot stand to be in it anymore.”

“She said she would have never thought the vehicle could shut off and she will never trust the vehicle again,” according to the police reports.

It’s unclear how long Ruby and Spike were in the car. The officer was told by a person whose name was redacted in the reports that the dogs were in the car for two hours. Miller estimated in a follow-up interview that she was in Staples for about an hour.

The responding officer found a key fob to the car on the ground of the passenger side of the car, according to the police reports. Miller reportedly said she left the fob in a cup holder so the car would continue to run with the air on for the dogs.

“She said she had done ‘a million times,’ ” according to the police reports.

The officer determined that Spike and Ruby were left in the car “with the intention of provid(ing) cooling via the car air conditioning,” but an “unknown malfunction” caused it turn off, according to the police reports. Spike’s death “appeared to be accidental.”

Ruby received a blood plasma transfusion and had to be monitored for six to eight hours for signs of her liver shutting down, according to the police reports. A person tried performing CPR on Spike without success.

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