Long Island woman's guide dog dies after being left in van
NEW YORK - Michelle Krupa says she feels like she’s living life alone after a deadly mistake at a training facility on Long Island took her beloved guide dog Milton from her too soon.
"He was my guardian angel," she said. "He was next to me all the time."
The 3-year-old black lab was in the care of the Guide Dog Foundation while Krupa was learning how to live independently.
The foundation that has placed hundreds of guide dogs with individuals with disabilities free of charge over the past 76 years had matched her with Milton at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The two were inseparable.
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"He gave Michelle a whole new lease on life," said Michelle’s husband, Tom. "A whole new outlook."
Until last week when the couple received a call - Milton had died.
"They said there was a tragic accident and they said he was accidentally left in a vehicle," Michelle krupp said.
It is a profound loss for the 55-year-old who has Usher Syndrome - a rare genetic disease that affects both hearing and vision.
The Krupas tell us a trainer left Milton in a van for hours on one of the hottest days of summer and called it a tragic mistake.
"If they had a checks and balances system, if someone when they took him out had to check back in - I don’t think it would’ve have happened and they wouldn’t have had to deal with it either," she said.
A spokesperson for the Guide Dog Foundation tells FOX 5 News they have been taking immediate steps to review this tragic event to make sure this never happens again.
They are offering the Krupa family their full support saying if and when Michelle is ready to be matched with a successor dog, the foundation will be ready to provide her with the guide dog as soon as when it’s trained and available.
"I think just relying on humans not to make mistakes is the biggest mistake," Michelle said.
While Krupa is open to getting another guide dog, she holds on to Milton’s paw print and hopes lessons can be learned from this unthinkable tragedy.
"Your pets are relying on you to take care of them," she said. "They love you unconditionally. And all they need in return is to make sure you make sure they’re safe."