Austin Clifford Sword, 18, 251 Barton Road, Rogersville, was cited on a single count of animal cruelty on May 30 by Rogersville police after Officer Chris Funk reportedly found a four week old puppy unattended in a pickup parked in the Hawkins County Justice Center.
Funk stated in his report it was 77 degrees outside that day. The pickup was unlocked, and fearing for the puppy's safety Funk reportedly opened the door and discovered the truck interior was about 20 degrees hotter than the outside temperature.
Sword, who was located inside the Justice Center, reportedly stated that he didn't know the dog was in the truck until he got to the Justice Center. Sword stated that a juvenile passenger 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.
Hawkins County Sessions Judge J. Todd Ross told the Times-News Thursday that although the charge was dismissed against Sword, the Humane Society charges for keeping the puppy will have to be paid before the family can have the dog back.
“The attorney general didn’t feel there would be sufficient evidence to support the elements of the crime since there was no evidence of how long the dog was in the car or that (the puppy) suffered any injuries,” Ross said. “The affidavit alleged that it was 77 degrees and the windows were partially rolled down. It would be unlikely a vet could testify that the dog suffered any injury.”
Humane Society assistant manager Sandy Behnke said the bill for the family to retrieve the puppy is closing in on $400. The humane society charges $10 per day for boarding animals, but the puppy also required some medical care including treatment for ring worm and tapeworm, as well as parvo shots.
Behnke said there is a waiting list to adopt that puppy if the family is unable to pay the fee.