Guide dog dies after being left in hot car for hours

SMITHTOWN, N.Y. — Michelle Krupa, who has a rare genetic disease that affects her vision and hearing, said that her guide dog of two years, named Milton, died after a trainer left the animal in a van for more than five hours.

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Krupa told CBS News that Milton was not only her guide dog, but also her best friend. “He was my guardian angel,” Krupa said. “He was next to me all the time.”

On July 22, Milton was at the Guide Dog Foundation, where he was originally trained, to get additional training, WPIX reported. The goal of the updated training was to have Milton learn to sit still while Michelle was in a classroom.

“He was going to go out,” Michelle told WPIX. “It was hot. Plans got changed. And they left him in the van like he was going to go out.”

Krupa said Milton was left inside the van from 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., on a day when the temperature was in the low 90s, News12 reported.

“I’m so sad, because I just don’t know how I’m going to go on without him,” Krupa told CBS News.

“He gave Michelle a whole new lease on life, a whole new outlook,” Tom Krupa, Michelle’s husband, told CBS News. “She never, ever would even think of venturing outside and now we’re back to square one.”

Michelle suffers from Usher syndrome, a rare genetic disease that causes both hearing loss and an eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, according to the National Eye Institute. There is no cure.

In a statement to WPIX, a spokesperson for the Guide Dog Foundation said: “The Guide Dog Foundation offers Michelle and her family our full support if and when Michelle is ready to be matched with a successor dog. … The Guide Dog Foundation has been taking immediate steps to review this tragic event to mitigate the potential of this ever happening again.”

“They said that they thought nothing like this could ever happen,” Michelle told WPIX. “And that’s the problem. You can’t rely on humans to be perfect when they’re not.”

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