For Pete's Sake

City starts investigation into alleged animal cruelty after puppy rescued at Kauffman Stadium

One of the people who saved the puppy from a car in the parking lot at Kauffman Stadium on Sunday might be getting a new companion.

Michael Warner, who along with his brother Josh Lee alerted team officials to the plight of the dog in the sweltering heat, had expressed interest in adopting the puppy.

Toby Cook, the Royals vice president of publicity, said the dog went home with a seasonal worker on Sunday night after the owners didn’t claim the dog, and was going to be brought to the Kansas City animal shelter. As of Monday afternoon, the dog’s owners hadn’t contacted the Royals.

Julia Jacobs of the Kansas City Pet Project, which runs the shelter, said the dog had not been dropped off as of 12:45 p.m. Monday. Jacobs said if the owners don’t contact KC Pet Project within five days that he will be put up for adoption.

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The city of Kansas City is investigating the incident. Chris Hernandez, Director of City Communications, said if convicted on an Animal Cruelty charge, the penalty can be up to $1,000 or 180 days in jail. Hernandez encouraged people to call police or the city’s 311 Center to report suspected animal cruelty or neglect.

“The sooner we are involved the better case we can build for prosecution,” Hernandez wrote in an email. “The city’s Animal Health and Public Safety Officers respond to approximately 20,000 calls per year, rescuing 4,000 animals from neglect and cruelty each year.”

The Royals fans, who won the tickets from the Royals as part of a Father’s Day Twitter promotion, left Sunday’s game in the eighth inning and were taking a winding path back to their vehicle when Warner heard the dog.

“We just followed the whimpering where we heard it and there he was,” Lee recalled. “He was happy. God, he was happy to see us.”

The dog, which Lee said appeared to be a pit bull mix and was about 16 weeks old, didn’t have access to food or water.

The Royals’ protocol* usually is to call the towing service the team keeps on site and get a dog out of the car. Animal control is usually on the scene by then, Cook said. This was an unusual case in that they were able to access the dog, remove him and take him to the air-conditioned comforts of Kauffman Stadium, so the team could await word from the owners. A note was left on the car.

*Yeah, sadly there is a protocol for this

“We have this deal where we try to give fans time to contact us,” Cook said. “When it got to 5:30, 6 at night, it was probably 45 minutes to an hour after last out on the 13-inning game and we hadn’t heard from anybody, so the puppy went home with the employee.”

Jacobs said after the dog is dropped off at the Kansas City Pet Project, he will be made available for adoption if he is healthy and doesn’t have behavior problems. If the owners do reach out, they will have 10 days to retrieve the pup.

In addition to saving the dog, Lee said he was grateful that his 5-year-old son was on hand Sunday.

“He’s been wanting a dog,” Lee said. “It’s a big life lesson that they’re not a toy. They’re a living creature.”

Cook has a lesson, too.

“It sounds like it should go without saying, but apparently it doesn’t, that you should not bring dogs to Kauffman Stadium and leave them in cars during the game,” Cook said.

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

In this promotional video produced by California Assembly Republicans on May 16, 2016, lawmakers advocate for Assembly Bill 797, which would allow people to break dogs out of hot cars. From left, they are Assembly members Kristin Olsen of Riverban

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff