WOONSOCKET – A 20-year-old city woman is facing criminal charges after an emaciated, sickly pit bull was found in a hot, locked car, parked in direct sunlight with the windows rolled up.
Keisha A. Davis was arraigned in District Court Monday on charges of unnecessary cruelty to an animal and animal neglect.
“Unfortunately, they’re state charges,” said Animal Control Officer Doris Kay. “I say unfortunately because I would have liked to give her a ticket myself.”
The ACO now has custody of the roughly six-month-old, brown-and-white pit, which was discovered about 6 p.m. Sunday in a car behind 36 Fairmount St.
The temperature in the car was estimated to be 100 degrees at the time. Dog feces were smeared on the back windows and seats of the white Hyundai when the dog, nearly dehydrated from the heat, was freed from the vehicle. Police said the dog also showed signs of long-term mistreatment.
“The conditions he was found in were really deplorable,” Kay said. “He’s been neglected. He’s got some type of a rash – what that is we won’t know until he’s seen by a veterinarian. He was on the way to dehydration. His legs were wobbly when he walked. His nails were long.”
“He seems to be doing a little better today,” Kay added.
How long the dog was inside the car is unclear. Police said the dog was found by the driver of a tow truck who was dispatched to the scene because Davis had locked her keys in the Hyundai.
Jonathan Rivera, the driver for Interstate Towing, told police his dispatcher was never told there was also a dog locked in the car.
Rivera was on the scene for 20 minutes before he even noticed the animal in the back seat.
He said he sounded the horn of his truck and knocked on every door in the apartment building to look for the owner of the car, but he couldn’t find anyone.
After a few more minutes, Rivera noticed the dog “shaking uncontrollably” and decided he couldn’t wait any longer to get some help for the animal.
He unlocked the door and called the police, who later found Davis in her apartment. The dog quickly lapped up a couple of bottles of water.
Police said Davis admitted the dog hadn’t been fed for a full day. She said her schedule had been unusually hectic because she was in the process of moving out of 36 Fairmount St. into another apartment on the other side of town.
Based on their interview with Davis, police said they couldn’t figure out how long the dog was inside the car. While Rivera said his company was dispatched about 5:30 p.m., police said Davis did not make it clear to them how long the keys and the dog were locked in the car before she called.
Patrolman Dan Lajoie concluded that the mistreatment of the animal began well before it was placed in the vehicle, however.
“It was immediately apparent that the dog had been neglected for some time,” he said in a report.
Police Chief Thomas Carey was appalled by the situation. He said the incident comes amid a flurry of public serving announcements about the dangers associated with the weather – the hottest July on record since the National Weather Service has been tracking figures gathered at TF Green Airport in Warwick.
“How many times have they said it?” Carey. “No children and no pets in cars during the summertime.”
Both of the charges lodged against Davis are misdemeanors, which means they carry a maximum penalty of up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Kay said it would be up to a judge to determine whether Davis will be allowed to get the dog back, if she wants it.
She was released on personal recognizance after her arraignment Monday. She’s due back in court on Aug. 19.
Follow Russ Olivo on Twitter @russolivo