A woman from Memphis, Tennessee, was sentenced to two years in prison after leaving her dog in a locked car on a sweltering July day.
At least three passersby noticed the small terrier foaming at the mouth as it was locked inside Alexis Cain's car outside Wolfchase Galleria on July 29, The Commercial Appeal reported. Those witnesses called police, and were able to free the animal from Cain's Ford Fusion, but not in time to save the dog.
"You could tell it was on the verge of death," witness Madison Ford told WMC5 in Memphis. "Its tongue was sticking out."
They rushed the 3-month-old puppy to nearby Bartlett Animal Hospital, where it died. Veterinarians pegged the terrier's internal temperature at 110 degrees — the hottest temperature their thermometers could register — but said the dog's actual temperature could have been as high as 140 degrees.
"The terrier's internal body temperature remained at 110-plus degrees for 30 minutes after the terrier's death," the Memphis police report said, according to the Commercial Appeal.
Cain, 24, pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated cruelty to animals, and will serve two years in state prison. She was sentenced on Dec. 1.
“This is a victory for animal welfare,” said Andrew Jacuzzi, Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County executive director. “We’re proud to see our justice system take animal cruelty seriously. We applaud this decision and hope to see more stiff penalties like it in the future.”
Although the temperature outside was 99 degrees that day, the Humane Society of the United States warns that temperatures inside cars can rise to fatal levels within minutes, even when it's relatively cool outside. On a 72-degree day, the interior temperature of a vehicle can reach up to 116 degrees within an hour. On an 80-degree day, temperatures can reach fatal level within minutes, the Humane Society advises.