Oconee County, S.C., Animal Control Officer Nicole Hubbard has seen more than her fair share of distressing things done to animals since she joined the department two years ago. Yet she never could have expected what she’d see while returning home from a family vacation last weekend.
Shortly before noon on Saturday, as Hubbard and her boyfriend cruised along I-95 through the state of Georgia, the couple spotted something that caused both their jaws to drop.
A Dodge Durango plowed down the interstate in front of Hubbard’s car, averaging a speed of about 70 mph. Fixed to the rear of the SUV was a small dog crate, attached to a small luggage trailer by nothing but a bungee cord, near the vehicle’s exhaust pipe, on a blazing hot 95-degree afternoon.
“We pulled up behind the SUV and I asked my boyfriend, ‘what are the chances they have a dog in that crate?’ and he said, ‘No way,” Hubbard recalls, “and we got up next to the vehicle and there was this little dog sitting in that crate.”
The dog, a 20-pound white Beagle mix, was lying down in the crate as it flew down the highway, dragged precariously behind the dog owner’s speeding Durango. Hubbard says she and her boyfriend were flabbergasted.
“I was shocked,” Hubbard tells KCTV 5 News. “The luggage rack that the dog was on had no luggage on it. So my thought process was, ‘well why couldn’t you trade the luggage that’s inside the vehicle, for the dog that’s inside of the vehicle?’”
Disturbed by what she was seeing and worried for the health of the dog inside that small crate, Hubbard used her cell phone to contact the state highway patrol, who told her an officer would respond shortly. Meanwhile Hubbard was determined not to let the Durango out of her sight.
“We stayed behind them, and no officer ever came,” Hubbard tells the New York Daily News.
For two hours, driving the length of the Peach State, Hubbard tailed the Durango, wondering when police would arrive to help that poor dog. But help would not arrive until the dog-toting SUV crossed over the state line into South Carolina, when patrol officers finally stopped the Durango.
Hubbard and her boyfriend continued their drive home, but not before snapping several shocking photos of the offending SUV and its inhumane method for transporting precious canine cargo.
“I was just amazed that somebody could be that uneducated of the dangers with that dog being there,” Hubbard explains. “Hopefully, they learned something from it.”
Hubbard tells Yahoo! Shine that if the traffic stop had occurred in Oconee County, under her jurisdiction, the driver’s actions would have qualified as animal neglect, not only because the poor Beagle mix did not have access to water while in temperatures in excess of 95 degrees, but because the dog was locked in a small crate, the crate was strapped to a luggage trailer, the trailer was hitched to the back of a large SUV, and the SUV was traveling at 70 mph down an interstate. Sounds like an open and shut case, right?
When South Carolina Highway Patrol officers pulled over the Durango in question, no citations were written. When removed from the crate, the dog appeared healthy, even ran around a little in front of the officers. Highway Patrol spokespeople say they saw no available reason to punish the owner.
“I’m sure there are plenty of animal rights groups that would not agree with that, it’s certainly not the safest place for your pet to be,” Corporal Bill Rhyne of South Carolina’s Highway Patrol admits, “but there is no law for that. If somebody chooses to do that, they are allowed to do that.”