Losing a beloved family pet is hard enough, but someone poured salt into the wound when he stole a freezer containing the remains of two dogs awaiting cremation.
One was a 13-year-old Husky, which recently died and had been with the family since it was a puppy. The family was devastated to lose its dog and ordered a private cremation to get the ashes returned.
“It’s just left us in disbelief,” said Kathy Richardson, office manager at Bradenton Veterinary Hospital in the 1300 block of 17th Avenue West. “We were all like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ The staff is flabbergasted. It’s just jaw dropping how someone could do this.”
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Video surveillance captured the Monday night theft and shows a man in a dark-colored pickup truck driving into the parking lot about 10:20 p.m. Four minutes later, the truck drove away with the freezer in the back.
The incident is being investigated by the Bradenton Police Department. Richardson said the freezer is of little concern, but she is holding out hope that the remains will be returned.
“It’s an old freezer and we don’t care about that,” she said. “What we do care about are those two dogs and I would hope this person does the right thing and returns them.”
I just can’t believe somebody would be so heartless.
Kathy Richardson, Bradenton Veterinary Hospital office manager
Staff spent much of Tuesday searching nearby garbage cans and dumpsters. What the suspect did with the remains is unclear, but the fact that staff members were unable to find anything nearby is keeping hope alive that it’s not too late to fulfill the wishes of a grieving family.
“We can certainly all put ourselves into that place of losing a pet,” Richardson said. “But to put the family through this is heartbreaking. Calling that young lady was the hardest thing I had to do. First, I passed along my condolences and then told her that unfortunately I had some other information to share.”
Richardson told the owner the news, “And at first, she was silent for a while just trying to take in what I had just told her. And then she said basically what we had all been saying and that was, ‘How on earth could somebody do this?’ ”
The owners were distraught at the news, Richardson said, but ultimately they were understanding.
The freezer had sat in the same location outside the hospital owner’s nearby home for the past three years. It is common practice for a veterinary clinic to have an outdoor freezer to store animal remains awaiting cremation. Often, crematory companies pick up after hours.
“And I’ve just never heard of anything like this happening before,” Richardson said. “I just can’t believe somebody would be so heartless. Even if they thought it was a private freezer, they would eventually know what was inside. I can’t understand it.”
Word began to spread on a Bradenton Facebook page and many of the comments in reaction to the theft contain language unsuitable for print. One poster apologized for her language and went on to write, “But you know what, people have no integrity.”
Another wrote, “That’s beyond sick and sad, people have no compassion anymore.”
Others expressed hope that karma would pay a visit to the suspect.