By GARY POPP
A Boston Terrier has fully recovered after overheating in a vehicle as its owner was in the East 10th Street Kroger grocery buying water Wednesday afternoon.
The dog’s owner, Laura Esparza, 37, Melody Lane in Jeffersonville, has been preliminarily charged with class A misdemeanor animal cruelty.
Esparza was reached by phone Thursday and said that she was “surprised” her dog suffered such distress after leaving the pet in the vehicle for “no more than 20 minutes” with its windows [partially] down.
The dog was later transported to J.B. Ogle Animal Shelter and given a cool bath and intravenous fluids for hydration.
Jeffersonville police and animal control departments responded to a GMC Denali about 6 p.m. to find the small white and black dog, Chimi, “that appeared to be in distress,” according the police report. Police reported that Kroger employees had attempted to find the Denali’s owner by combing through the grocery’s aisles and making numerous pages over the store’s intercom.
Following the unsuccessful search for Esparza, police notified animal control and then decided to enter the vehicle through an unlocked rear hatch to rescue the dog.
“We began giving the canine water, but the canine was in such distress it would not take any water in,” according to the police report. “As animal control arrived on the scene, the canine began defecating in the vehicle, which animal control advised was not a good sign for the canine.”
After animal control had transported Chimi, Esparza approached the vehicle and began asking about her dog’s well-being.
Esparza told police that she had seen officers around her vehicle and thought she was in trouble, which is why she didn’t respond to intercom pages in the store or had earlier approached the vehicle.
“Ms. Esparza did not show any remorse toward the [dog], and she advised she just wanted to go home,” police reported.
She was then handcuffed in the parking lot and transported to Michael L. Becher Adult Correctional Complex in Jeffersonville.
Esparza said Thursday that she usually keeps her four-legged friend at home, but as she was preparing to leave her home for Kroger to buy water, the dog wanted to go tag along.
Charlie Heavrin, executive director of J.B. Ogle Animal Shelter, commended the animal shelter’s staff for giving Chimi special attention, and by Thursday afternoon the dog was “running around the office eating treats.”
When temperatures reach 90 degrees — or even in mild weather — animals should not be left in a vehicle for any length of time, even with cracked windows, Heavrin said.
Esparza said she loves her dog and hopes it will be returned to her, but Chimi remains at the animal shelter.
Heavrin said he is waiting to receive notification from Clark County court officials before releasing the animal.
“I know it was a mistake. I know it was my fault,” Esparza said. “It is a good dog. A really, really good dog. Everybody loves Chimi.”