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DHSS Press Release

Dr. Kara Odom Walker, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498

DPH Media Contact:
Jennifer Brestel
302-744-4907, Cell 302-612-6223

Date: July 24, 2019


MILFORD (July 24, 2019) - Officers from the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) Office of Animal Welfare (OAW) arrested a Milford woman on Tuesday July 23, 2019, following the death of a dog that was tethered outside of a home during dangerously hot temperatures. The dog's owner, 36-year-old Kimberly Sterling, was charged with one count each of cruelty to animals, failure to vaccinate for rabies and failure to obtain a dog license.

The OAW Delaware Animal Services (DAS) unit, which enforces statewide animal control and cruelty laws, responded to a report of a dog tethered outside in the heat on Thursday July 18, 2019. Upon arrival, officers found a dog tethered outside as described. The dog was tangled in the tether, had visible injuries, and appeared to be suffering from heat stroke. Officers were unable to make contact with anyone in the home.

Because the dog was in imminent danger, the officers cut the tether and rushed the dog to medical treatment. The dog died while en route. At that time, two other DAS officers had arrived at the residence where the dog resided and was able to make contact with the owner. During their investigation, officers learned the dog had been tethered outside for several hours. In addition, there was no evidence of shelter, shade, or water present for the dog. While on the property, officers also observed a second dog inside the residence, which was removed for medical evaluation and is being held pending the outcome of the cruelty case.

Sterling was also arraigned on Tuesday, July 23, 2019, and released on her own recognizance pending a court hearing.

OAW once again urges dog owners to protect their animals during excessive heat in the summer months:

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A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person's spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit

DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.