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Lifestyle & Human Interest

4 Dogs Die After Being Left in a Running Car with A/C on: Owner Charged with Felony Animal Cruelty

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We’ve all seen the heartbreaking and maddening videos where people carelessly leave children or pets in the car or they simply forget there’s anyone else traveling with them. In the best cases, some caring passer-by will spot the situation and call for help before it’s too late, but not all endings are happy.

To avoid such tragedies, all sorts of devices, apps and car functions have been developed to remind parents to check car seats or give pet owners the option to leave the car running with the air conditioning on for their pets.

But such developments are not failsafe, and things can still go wrong despite the best of intentions.

In one tragic case last month, 25-year-old Tesia White traveled from Gainesville, Missouri, to New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

On May 26, she stopped at a restaurant to have lunch with her boyfriend, leaving her four dogs in the car.

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White said she left her car running and the air conditioning on and checked on her pets at least once during her meal, but by the time she came out after finishing her lunch an hour later, all four dogs were unresponsive.

The charging affidavit revealed that the four dogs were Dora, a 4-year-old goldendoodle; Brandy, a 2-year-old boxer; and Lilo and Hiccup, two 12-week-old goldendoodle puppies.

Authorities later released the heartbreaking 911 call that the boyfriend made upon their horrible discovery.

“We have four dogs on the side that were, they accidentally turned the air conditioning off in the car, and they were trapped in a hot car, and now they’re all laying on the side, and none of them are moving, and they’re all like foaming from the mouth,” the distraught caller said, according to WOFL-TV in Orlando.

In the background of the call, White can be heard wailing as she and her boyfriend tried to revive the dogs.

According to what one witness told WOFL, others passing by were trying to help, too, giving the dogs mouth-to-mouth and trying to bring them back, but it was “very clearly way too late.”

During the call, the boyfriend confirmed that the four dogs were indeed theirs and said they’ve left the dogs in the car with the air conditioning running in the past and never had any issues. This time, however, one of the dogs must have turned the air conditioning off.

According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, when New Smyrna Beach police officers arrived, the car was running and both White and her boyfriend were crying. At the time, White allegedly said, “I should not be allowed to own a dog,” and, “I cannot believe I let this happen.”

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The police report said the outside temperature at the time of the incident was 89 degrees, according to WKMG-TV, but the dogs had been removed from the vehicle by the time they arrived.

White was arrested on four counts of felony animal cruelty and placed in the Volusia County Branch Jail on a $10,000 bond.

On May 27, White stood before a judge and sobbed as the charges were read. The prosecutor tried to set the bond far higher because of the “severity and the facts of the case,” but the bond remained at $10,000.

This sad case is a painful reminder that if you leave your pets in a car, even with it running and the air conditioning on, things can still go horribly wrong. While traveling across states with animals complicates the issue, it’s best to leave your pets safely at home whenever possible.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking