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Roanoke Couple Arrested for Felony Animal Cruelty

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The case of a Roanoke pair arrested for leaving their dog to die in a hot car almost six months ago has been sent to a Grand Jury, WSLS News reports.

On June 25, James Lipscomb, 37, and Ashley Hutton, 38, left their vehicle parked in a downtown parking lot in Roanoke, Virginia. The parking spot received direct sunlight. What’s more, the couple exited the vehicle shortly before 1:30 p.m. while leaving their two dogs inside. It was nearly 90 degrees Fahrenheit at the time.

Sadly, one dog died from heatstroke. Roanoke police placed the couple into custody and charged each of them with two counts of felony animal cruelty. The charges have since been revised and certified to a Grand Jury.

Virginia Grand Jury set to issue indictment

According to recent court documents, Lipscomb and Hutton are currently facing one felony count of animal cruelty and one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty.

At the same time the couple was taken into custody in June, a team of officers were dispatched to the couple’s home. Those officers seized two other dogs who were in the care of the pair. Victoria Owens — a Door Dash driver who recorded a clip of the dogs trapped inside the vehicle — called 911 after failing to get hold of the owners. One dog was seen panting heavily while lying on the floor, and the other was in the backseat. According to Owen, the canines were in the car for nearly 15 minutes. 

By the time police arrived on the scene, one of the dogs had passed away.  Another witness, Holly Moses, ran to her apartment to get water.  “I had a cup of water. I tried to, you know, get close to the window and then one dog started growling at me and I knew then something wasn’t right,” Moses said. 

The surviving dog was also exhibiting signs of heatstroke. They were rushed to an emergency veterinary practice for treatment.

Lipscomb and Hutton’s case will be presented in court before the Virginia Grand Jury. At this time, a court date has yet to be set.

No Good Samaritan law for dogs

Unfortunately, bystanders couldn’t do anything to rescue the dogs. That’s because, under Virginia law, only law enforcement, animal control officers, firefighters, or emergency medical personnel can break into unattended cars to rescue trapped pets.

The law only permits ordinary citizens to rescue children left unattended inside the hot car — not pets.

On the day of the incident, Moses lamented, “I will never get out, just, the visuals of everything happening.” She added, “The one dog being drug to the ground, already unconscious. And no resuscitation is going to bring them back from that.” As the owner of a Pit Bull, she said her dog is like her child.

Horrified by the situation and how helpless she felt, Moses hopes Virginia lawmakers will change existing laws. She said, “A Good Samaritan law to be passed would be ideal so that” future dog death and injury like this one “can be prevented.”

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