Around 1 PM on Sunday, June 26 the Cordova Mall parking lot in Pensacola, Florida echoed with the tiny, frantic cries of a 3-week old puppy in distress. It was 94 degrees outside, but inside the car where the pup had been left, the temperature was more like 150.
Officer Anthony Giorgio’s body camera captured the animal’s heartbreaking cries for help and the dramatic rescue.
The footage quickly went viral, highlighting this hot button issue once again. By the time Officer Giorgio arrived and made the decision to break the window of the sweltering car, the puppy had been trapped inside for at least 16 minutes.
The owner did not return to the car for another hour – well beyond the time the tiny sweetheart could have survived in such conditions.
Police cited the owner with animal cruelty, with the first offense penalty of a $150 fine. Animal Control made the decision to return the 3-week old female pooch to the owner because of her tender age, determining it was in her best interest to be returned to her mother.
None of the news stories we researched were able to offer an explanation as to why such a tiny, vulnerable puppy was taken from her mother, brought to a mall, and left in a hot car to begin with.
In response to the incident, the Pensacola Police posted the following message to their Facebook page, along with photos of the puppy and the smashed vehicle. The post includes a not-so-subtle warning to other potential offenders.
People have shared the post more than 13,000 times.
Several months ago Florida became the second state to offer immunity to citizens who rescue pets from hot cars. The law requires that Samaritans verify that the animal is in distress and that the vehicle is locked before smashing a window. They must also contact authorities after breaking into the vehicle and wait for officers to arrive.