Florida Woman Faces Animal Cruelty Charge for Leaving Dog in Hot Car


Animal Cruelty: Dog Rescued from Sweltering Hot Car While Owner Enjoyed the Beach

Nashville, TN – Tuesday’s incident at Clearwater Beach in Florida involved an alarming act of animal cruelty, leading to the arrest of Marie Rutherford, 40, for leaving her dog unattended in a dangerously hot car.

At around 4:45 p.m., Clearwater police responded to a report of an animal in distress at the Pier 60 parking lot. They arrived at the scene to find a pitbull panting heavily and visibly distressed in the backseat of a car parked in direct sunlight with outside temperatures hovering around 90 degrees.

Despite small openings in the windows, the dog exhibited signs of heatstroke, including sweating profusely and appearing drowsy.

Heart-Wrenching Rescue

Bodycam footage released by the Clearwater Police Department captures the officers taking swift action to save the animal. They promptly smashed the car’s front passenger window to unlock the doors and free the dog.

One officer provided immediate assistance to the distressed animal, tending to its needs and offering fresh water. The dog was also found to have some warm water available in the car, but it was inadequate to prevent dehydration.

Owner’s Admission of Neglect

Upon questioning, Rutherford admitted to leaving the dog in the car and stated that she assumed the animal would be okay with the windows partially open and water available.

Clearwater Beach Policy and Animal Welfare

Clearwater Beach has strict regulations prohibiting pets on the sand in public bathing areas, with the exception of service animals. However, leashed dogs are permitted in designated areas.

The incident serves as a sobering reminder of the dangers of leaving pets in vehicles. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) strongly advises against this practice, as temperatures inside a car can rise up to 20 degrees higher than the outside temperature in just 10 minutes.

Prevention is Key

To prevent animal cruelty and ensure the well-being of our furry companions, the ASPCA recommends the following:

  • Never leave pets unattended in a car, regardless of the duration or weather conditions.
  • Leave pets at home when visiting places where they are not welcome.
  • If you witness an animal in distress inside a vehicle, call 911 immediately and remain with the animal until help arrives.

The consequences of animal neglect can be severe, both for the animal and the individual responsible. Rutherford’s case serves as a cautionary tale, highlighting the importance of responsible pet ownership and the protection of our animal companions.