Was it all a “whole lot of nothing”, or an act of animal cruelty? You be the judge!
On February 14, more than 150 people came out to Spec Pond in Wilbraham for the Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge—a fundraising event for Special Olympics Massachusetts.
One of the attendees photographed a 6-year-old Labrador named Lincoln taking the plunge.
The photo series shows:
- A man who appears to have his hand on the Labrador.
- The Lab plunging in the water
- The dog submerged in the water.
The questions begging to be answered are:
- “Did the man force the Labrador into the icy water?”
- “If he did, is this cruel?”
Labradors are bred and built to swim, and their double coat offers protection and insulation!
The photos went viral on social media. Outraged, netizens expressed their concern, with many saying that the incident was an act of animal cruelty.
On Wednesday, February 18, the Town of Wilbraham released a statement about the incident. You can read the full report here.
In summary the statement says:
- Police officers were at the event to ensure public safety, and did assist the Labrador.
- Wilbraham Police Capt. Timothy Kane adds, “Lincoln, at the direction of the Wilbraham Police Department, was seen by a licensed veterinarian at Veterinary in Haydenville, Massachusetts after the incident.”
- The police interviewed Lincoln’s human and the witnesses. They also reviewed a full-length video of the incident, and a report on Lincoln’s health from a licensed veterinarian.
- The Labrador Retriever was in the water for approximately five to seven seconds. When he got out of the water, he was immediately dried off and taken to a warming area. The dog was taken home about ten minutes later.
- Lincoln is “an avid winter swimmer, who often uses a floatation device when jumping into water for a quick swim during ice fishing excursions with his owner.”
- Lincoln was in perfect health after the incident. The vet noted that the Lab did not suffer any ill effects.
- Law enforcement officials had no malicious intent to hurt the dog during the Polar Plunge, and that the incident was not an instance of animal cruelty, as defined by state law.
- The Lab’s owner clearly loves his dog and expressed his love and concern for Lincoln throughout the investigation.
- Lincoln’s owner and Lincoln’s veterinarian confirmed that Lincoln is not mistreated at all and, like most Labs, he just loves the water.
- The Wilbraham Police will not pursue Lincoln’s owner criminally.
Special Olympics Massachusetts also released a statement about the incident, saying:
It has come to our attention that during a Polar Plunge fundraising event for Special Olympics Massachusetts that a dog was pushed into the water by its owner. Special Olympics Massachusetts and Law Enforcement Torch Run in no way condone this action and we are very shocked and disappointed that this happened at what has consistently been a great community event.
Every consideration is taken to ensure that safety is paramount for our participants and we are troubled that an animal and pet was put into a situation that we in no way, shape or form condoned.
Special Olympics Massachusetts plans to look into this matter and take the necessary actions to prevent a situation such as this from ever occurring again.
We thank everyone who has voiced their concern over this matter, we are with you and share your outrage and frustrations.
We thank our volunteers and law enforcement partners, and will be looking to them to help us better serve the community moving forward as we continue to create safe, fun and inspirational events in support of Special Olympics.
Source: ABC 40