Woman accused of leaving dog in hot car while visiting Florida beach

Marie Rutherford

CLEARWATER, Fla. — A Tennessee woman is accused of leaving her dog in a hot car while she parked her vehicle and went to a west-central Florida Beach, authorities said.

>> Read more trending news

According to Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office online booking records, Marie Rutherford, 40, of Nashville, was arrested on May 21. She was charged with one count of animal cruelty, online records show.

According to the Clearwater Police Department, officers were called to Pier 60 at Clearwater Beach where they found a large pit bull inside a vehicle with the windows cracked about two inches, WFLA-TV reported. Police said it was approximately 90 degrees outside at the time of the officers’ intervention, according to the television station.

Officers said the dog was panting and appeared to be in distress, WTVT reported. The animal appeared to be falling asleep and was “sweating profusely,” police said.

Body camera video showed an officer smashing the vehicle’s window and unlocking its doors so a fellow officer could hydrate the dog, according to the television station.

Police estimated that the dog had been left alone in the vehicle between 30 and 40 minutes, according to WTVT.

According to authorities, Rutherford allegedly admitted to leaving the dog in the vehicle while she went to the beach, WFLA reported. She reportedly told investigators that she thought the animal would be safe in the vehicle because she left water inside, according to the television station.

The dog was treated by an area veterinarian and then was taken to an animal control facility, WTVT reported.

According to Pinellas County online court records, Rutherford was released on May 22 after posting $500 bail.

Sherry Silk, the CEO of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, said leaving a dog in a hot car for even a few minutes can be fatal this time of year.

“Do not take your dogs anywhere, because you may be running into a store thinking you’re only going to be there for five minutes, but it doesn’t take long for that car to really heat up,” Silk told WTVT. “And if you get caught up in something, and you’re there an extra ten minutes, animals die. Dogs start convulsing. They suffer from heat stroke. That does brain damage and ultimately death.”

Comments on this article