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Forgotten poodle making speedy recovery

A poodle in Vermont survived 19 days in a van at the Burlington International Airport parking garage.

The 12-year-old miniature poodle, Michou, apparently left in the van without food or water, lost half his body weight and endured freezing temperatures. He was discovered after a passerby alerted police to a stench coming from the vehicle. Since then, he has made an “amazing” recovery, veterinarians said.

Police cited the dog’s owner, Canadian citizen Pascal Bellon, 50, of Frelighsburg, Quebec, for cruelty to animals, which has a fine of $100. Bellon has agreed to give up custody of the dog and pay for veterinary bills related to the pet’s recovery, according to a report in the Burlington Free Press.

Police said the dog, locked in the car from Dec. 14 to Jan. 6, was not left at the airport intentionally, but the circumstances around his abandonment were not divulged.


Comment from Reeves
Time January 30, 2009 at 1:32 pm

Pascal Bellon, the owner of Michou, the abandoned poodle, paid $100.00 fine as well as surrendered the dog and will pay all of Michou’s treatment bills related to recovery from the abandonment. The other option was to bring criminal cruelty charges, with the fine of $7,500.00 and prison time. But, this could only happen if prosecutors could prove intent to harm with owner knowledge that Michou was in the vehicle, which Bellon lacked, according to police spokeswoman, Lt. Jennifer Morrison. You don’t look after a dog for 12 years (it had a nice-looking collar on, as well) and then decide to abandon it in a van that could be traced back to you. You don’t abandon your dog in your own car only to come back to have it ruined by stench of rotting flesh, urine and feces that you shall have to clean up. Some dogs are ‘silent riders”; Michou is a small miniature poodle in a large EuroVan, though it is difficult to believe any dog would not stir or be noticed during the time between driving from Frelighsburg, Quebec, to taking out one’s suitcases at Burlington International Airport (85-90 miles?). Furthermore, Bellon’s wife claimed she thought the dog had run off their large property (of horses and other pets).

Though it may be difficult to behold, it could have been an unintentional tragedy. That was the conclusion of the investigation. But, punishment there must be. At minimum, this case is one of terrible negligence by a dog owner. As pet owners, we are responsible 24/7/365 for the whereabouts and well-being of our pets. Unfortunate accidents may happen, but this one was within the owner’s control, and it led to the dog’s appalling suffering and near-death. If it was an honest mistake, giving up all rights to ownership of a genuinely loved (however unwisely) pet is a high price to pay. If it was intentional neglect and criminal cruelty, that neither intent to harm nor owner knowledge of the dog in the van can be proven, Michou may have had to be released back to his owner.

Those concerned about animal welfare and Vermont pet laws need to continue the campaign to strengthen the laws and punishments relating to animal neglect and abuse. I think the US/Canadian border customs people should be held negligent of their duties for not checking Bellon’s vehicle thoroughly. It is illegal to transport a pet dog over the border without valid papers. In addition, since the Bellon family have multiple pet animals, Canadian animal authorities need to make sure they are taking care of these animals as well.

For now, we can be glad that Michou is alive and has good people to take care of him. My utmost thanks to the concerned citizen who alerted the airport authorities, to Animal Control Officer, Jodi Harvey, and Michou’s foster family.