For Lush, a 7-month-old pit bull terrier, a handful of water and a dollop of kindness likely averted a cruel fate last week in a steamy asphalt parking lot in Bishops Corner.
Lush caught a break when a watchful shopper outside the called police around 1 p.m. Thursday and said a white and tan dog appeared in bad shape in an unattended Chevy Tahoe with, it turned out, illegal plates and a driver with a streak of arrests.
Lush was apparently in peril because of the sweltering heat until officers Raymond Swank and Joseph Creaco and Sgt. Roger Brancoforte arrived.
“[Creaco] poured a bottle of water into Sgt. Brancoforte’s hand to allow Lush to drink,” Swank said. “Lush was desperate to drink as much water as possible.”
Lush, panting heavily and his body visibly stressed in the midst of a heat wave, was discovered by police sprawled in the backseat of the black SUV.
“After the entire bottle was poured, Lush began to lick the water that had spilled on the asphalt,” Swank wrote in his arrest report.
To the probable dismay of the SUV’s missing occupants, there was an unmistakable odor inside the vehicle, according to the officers.
“Sgt. Brancoforte opened the passenger-side rear door and it appeared the dog was in distress,” Swank said. “The passenger compartment had a very strong smell of feces.”
The shopper who called police told Creaco that a man, later identified as Anthony L. Shipman of Hartford, struck Lush in the SUV before going to the Big Y with a woman. Shipman, 27, whose court record includes a felony conviction for selling drugs, told Swank he smacked Lush because the puppy defecated.
Shipman was charged with cruelty to animals and the misuse of a license plate, which he told police belonged to a cousin. He was released on a promise to appear Aug. 4 in Hartford Superior Court.
Shipman told Swank he acquired Lush three weeks earlier.
Lush was a lucky dog, according to studies. A vehicle’s interior, even with open windows, can heat up to more than 100 degrees in 15 minutes when the outside temperature is 85.
When Lush was rescued, the temperature was 95 and the heat index 108, Swank said, noting accuweather.com.
Lush, perhaps aptly named, was so thirsty after knocking off the bottle, Swank said, that he “was trying to lick the flow of water that dripped from the air-conditioning unit of my patrol car.”