Hawkins teen charged after allegedly leaving puppy in hot vehicle

Jeff Bobo • Jun 6, 2013 at 12:25 PM

ROGERSVILLE - A Hawkins County teen accused of leaving a 4-week-old puppy in a hot vehicle last week at the Hawkins County Justice Center is scheduled for trial on one count of animal cruelty June 26 in Sessions Court.

Austin Clifford Sword, 18, 251 Barton Road, Rogersville, reportedly told the Rogersville Police Department he didn't know the dog was in his pickup until he got to the justice center.

On the morning of May 30 RPD Officer Chris Funk was contacted by Department of Children Services supervisor Chris Franklin who stated that an attorney for the DCS had discovered a small puppy unattended in a Chevy S-10 pickup at the Justice Center parking lot.

Funk stated in his report that around 10:21 he found the puppy, which was whining inside the pickup.

At the time the outside temperature was 77 degrees. Funk said the pickup was unlocked, and fearing for the puppy's safety he opened the door and discovered the truck interior was about 20 degrees hotter than the outside temperature.

"The windows had been left partially opened, but at the time of the investigation I didn't detect any breeze," Funk said. "I placed the puppy in my vehicle with the air conditioning running and gave it water."

Funk said he then located Sword inside the Justice Center.

Funk added, "Austin advised that he didn't know the dog was in the truck until he got to the Justice Center. He advised that a juvenile brought the dog without his knowledge."

The puppy, which was described as a four week old "Pug" valued at $350, was seized by the RPD and placed in the custody of the Hawkins County Humane Society pending the disposition of Sword's animal cruelty charge.

Family members were at the Humane Society Wednesday seeking to retrieve the puppy. But, the earliest the puppy could be released is after Sword's June 26 court date, and only by order fo the court.

Human Society assistant manager Sandy Behnke said a family member was concerned that they wouldn't be able to afford the HCHS's $10-per-day boarding fee by the time the case is resolved.

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