Our client was arrested by the Lomita Sheriff’s Department and charged with a felony violation of California Penal Code § 597(b), (Cruelty to Animals). Our client had left his pit bull in the back of his Ford Explorer while he went into his Lomita apartment.
At the time, it was more than 85 degrees outside and the afternoon. Although our client left all four windows slightly open to allow fresh air for his dog and left a bowl of water for his dog in the car before leaving to go into his apartment, the dog was allegedly close to death when “rescued” by to Lomita Sheriffs.
Our client’s neighbor called 911 when he saw the dog in the car. When officers arrived, they broke open the door and took the dog out. The dog had been in the car for approximately 45 minutes in the September heat. Our client knew this was so by a phone call he made just before leaving his car and the time written on the police report.
In a Nutshell: Felony animal cruelty arising out of our client leaving his dog in a car under extreme heat; police perhaps overreact and break into car, which had all four windows slightly open, dog jumps out of car on its own, case filed in Torrance, reduced to misdemeanor, 18 months informal probation.
Officers made no attempt to locate our client, who was in his apartment just about 30 or 40 feet away. The neighbor, who knew the car belonged to our client and where our client lived, did not direct the police to knock on our client’s door so he could just use his key and open up the car. The neighbor also did not knock on our client’s door first, before calling 911. Had any of these things happened, the dog would have been just fine and our client’s car would not have been broken into by the Lomita Sheriffs. Our client also may not have faced a felony charge or even been arrested.
Instead, hearing the commotion of the police outside, our client came out of his apartment and asked what was happening. When the officers realized he was the owner of the car and the dog, they placed him under arrest.
Officers did not even allow our client to go back in the house, even if they escorted him inside, to get his car keys. Instead, they seemed to insist upon breaking open the car, which they did and then having it towed to an impound lot, which cost him several hundred dollars to get his car back.