PARMA, Ohio — A woman was arrested on animal cruelty charges after calling police and telling them her dog had been locked inside her car overnight, only for responders to arrive and find the dog dead, according to the Parma Police Department.
On June 10, around 2:45 p.m, a woman called police seeking help getting into her car because her dog was locked inside of it. On that date, temperatures in Parma reached a high of 81 degrees by 11:58 a.m.
"My dog is locked in my car and I don't have a spare key," the woman told the dispatcher. "He's been in there—I couldn't find my spare key so I was wondering if a police could open it?"
The dispatcher then asked the woman how long her dog has been inside the car to which she responded "he's been in there quite awhile."
Pressing the woman for more details the dispatcher asked what "quite awhile" meant and the woman said "since last night."
"Your dog has been locked in your car since last night?" the dispatcher can be heard asking on the 911 call. "Is he alive?"
The woman said, "He's laying back there, I don't know but I can't get the car open. I thought I had a spare key."
On the call, the dispatcher learned that the dog was lying in the back of the locked vehicle, but when the woman was asked if the dog was breathing, she responded, "I think he's sleeping, I don't know."
After getting additional information from the woman, the dispatcher asked her if there was a reason she didn't call sooner, specifically the night she became locked out of the car with the dog inside.
"I didn't know that the keys were locked in there until now," the woman said.
The dispatcher asked if the woman normally leaves her dog inside of the car overnight and the woman responded, "I came home very late, at like four in the morning, so I say last night as in four in the morning because I was at my parents' house."
An officer was called to a residence in the 4400 block of Kenmore Avenue and once on scene, immediately worked to unlock the vehicle, getting it open within the first three minutes of arrival. Because the dog was a husky, Animal Control was called to assist at the scene.
A few minutes after unlocking the woman's vehicle, Animal Control arrived at the residence and the animal control officer approached the vehicle to check to see if the dog was alive.
"If he's dead I want her [expletive] arrested," the animal control officer told the officer on scene.
The animal control officer then confirmed that the dog was dead inside of the vehicle.
As the officer detained the woman, the animal control officer had a verbal outburst at the woman, yelling at her as she walked by, 'Get out of here before I [expletive] kill you!"
"Really, she just said that to me?" the woman can be heard asking the officer as he walked her to his cruiser. "I'm not a bad person...you're hurting me, I'm not trying to run, dude, I don't have shoes on. Why are you being mean, you act like I'm a criminal."
"You just killed your [expletive] dog," the officer responded.
The woman was arrested on animal cruelty charges.
Neighbors told police that the June 10 incident was not the first time the woman had left the dog in the vehicle for an extended period of time.
Police said that the woman has current charges pending under the State of Ohio Goddard's Law and a court history of 20 citations for animal-related violations since September 2020, but that Ohio law deems animals as property, restricting animal control officers from taking possession of the dog based on the previous citations.
The Parma Police Department issued the following statement in regards to the outburst from the animal control officer and the case itself:
Our animal control officer is passionate about her job and animals. She regrets allowing her emotions to get the best of her and, in this matter, was counseled by the safety director about her reaction.
It is important to note the defendant has current charges pending under the State of Ohio Goddard’s Law and a significant court history of 20 citations since September 2020 for animal-related violations, including:
1. Animal Running at Large
2. Failure to Comply with Requirements for a Dangerous Dog
3. Failure to Comply with Rabies Vaccination Requirements
4. Failure to Comply with Animal Registration
5. Failure to Comply with Quarantine
Ohio law deems animals as property and limits an animal control officer’s authority. Parma’s animal control officer was not legally permitted to take possession of the dog based on the defendant’s prior offenses.
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