Target: Akron Police Department Sergeant Kris Beitzel
Goal: Investigate and charge man who allegedly transported four puppies on the roof of his minivan.
The driver of a minivan with four caged puppies reportedly strapped to the roof was pulled over by police and let go with only a warning. When the driver, Wendell Steiner, was finally stopped the puppies were halfway through a 300 mile journey traveling at 70 mph down an Ohio highway. Their cage, two feet wide and four feet long, was covered in a blanket on three sides. The wind on the highway lifted the blanket, exposing the dogs to dozens of shocked motorists who called 911.
The driver willingly handed over the traumatized three-month-old mixed breed puppies to the police claiming he had no idea it was illegal to transport animals outside of a vehicle. He also claimed he and his family of six were transporting the dogs to his wife’s family in Pennsylvania so they wouldn’t be put down. He added he had far more important things in the vehicle, meaning his four children, and there was no room for the puppies inside.
Sergeant Kris Beitzel reportedly said they “weren’t acting like puppies.” They were fearfully huddled next to each other and had urinated in the cage, but refused to leave it. They were not injured but due to the wind, noise, and motion they were clearly traumatized. Before being transported to an animal shelter they were taken an animal hospital where they were checked, bathed, and said to be doing fine.
The driver and his family are members of the Mennonite church, a Christian denomination in which many view animals as property and less like family, according to the police. The police said because of that difference in viewpoints, and because the family was willing to cooperate, they were alright with letting the family go with a warning and an education about the law.
This is an unfair application of the law. Justice was not served for these for puppies. This unsettling situation raises questions and concerns that a warning doesn’t resolve. Were there even any inquiries into this family’s destination? Ohio and Pennsylvania have been home to plenty of puppy mills; could they have been on their way to one? If the caged puppies were killed would the driver still only get a warning? What precedence does this set?
Sign the petition below to demand punishment for this driver who broke the law and endangered four young puppies.
Dear Sergeant Beitzel,
Firstly, thank you for your service in rescuing the traumatized puppies from driver Wendell Steiner’s minivan roof, taking the photos that documented this case for the public, and for seeing that they received veterinary care after their harrowing experience.
I still, however, do not understand how this driver got off with only a warning. It’s hard to see how justice was served for these puppies. It raises questions and concerns that a warning doesn’t resolve.
I didn’t know people could break the law because “they didn’t know” they were breaking the law. Because of my own set of beliefs I just don’t get how justice is served in this instance when this reckless driver only got a warning for committing an illegal, dangerous act.
I believe you to be a compassionate person but more compassion should have been afforded to the puppies and less to the driver. This driver deserves some form of punishment for endangering those four young puppies and investigation into his suspicious story. I am looking to you to take some leadership on this.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Sgt. Kris Beitzel, Akron, Ohio Police Department