Three employees of Palo Alto's licensed animal services business, Pets in Need, face animal abuse and negligence in the deaths of seven puppies, officials said.

On Aug. 2, the puppies died while the employees are transporting them from the Central Valley. The three staffers had driven to the Central Valley in a Pets in Need van, a 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, to pick up extra animals who couldn't be accommodated at other shelters or had failed to be adopted. According to authorities (per Palo Alto Online), the transport tours are a regular event for Pets In Need. The facility also transports the animals to its local facilities for adoption.

During the trip, the staff were gone for several hours and had picked up 27 dogs, including the puppies. The siblings were 3- to 4-month-old Labrador/pitbull mix canines who measured about 9 pounds each.

East Bay Times said the rear cargo portion of the vehicle lacked air conditioning, and the personnel failed to provide water for the dogs during transport. According to police, the temperature in the Central Valley that afternoon was between 90 and 100 degrees.

When the staff checked the animals during a stop for gas in Los Banos back to Palo Alto, they reported that none of them appeared distressed. Pets In Need staff discovered seven unresponsive puppies when they arrived at the Palo Alto shelter at 3281 E. Bayshore Road. The employees quickly requested veterinary aid, who attempted unsuccessfully to resuscitate the puppies. According to the police, all of the other dogs in the van survived.

Following a police investigation, KRON4 said the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office decided to charge each of the three employees with two misdemeanor animal abuse and neglect charges. On Oct. 25, a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge authorized arrest warrants, which were cited and released on Oct. 26 as per regular process for nonviolent misdemeanor charges, according to police.

KPIX said the employees are Patricia Santana Valencia, 40, from East Palo Alto, Margaret C. Evans, 36, from Fremont, and Ingrid Anne Hartmann, 45, from San Carlos. No booking images are available because they were only cited and not sent to jail, according to police.

The Palo Alto Animal Shelter has been run by Pets In Need under a contract with the city of Palo Alto since 2019, another Palo Alto Online, report said. According to police, the employees work for Pets In Need, not the city of Palo Alto.

An 18-year-old has been taken into custody after he allegedly killed a 6-week-old puppy by throwing it against a wall, in retaliation for it pooping in his bed in Tamarac, Florida on Saturday, Aug. 27. This is a representational image. Shutterstock/ Patryk Kosmider

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