Police Save 'Panting' Puppy Stuffed In Car Trunk, 'Smiling' Owners Arrested For Animal Cruelty

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Florida police arrested two "smiling" owners after witnesses saw a man strike the "panting" puppy and lock it in their car trunk before going shopping for more than 30 minutes. Kylee Underwood|Facebook

Florida police arrested two "smiling" owners after witnesses saw a man strike the "panting" puppy and lock it in their car trunk before going shopping for more than 30 minutes.

Panama City Police officers were forced to bash in a four-door sedan backseat window in a parking lot and rescue the puppy locked inside a tiny kennel inside the trunk. The police department took to Facebook to thank several good Samaritans who notified them about an animal cruelty incident at the Panama City Mall Sunday. With temperatures in the mid-80s at the time, officers said they could "hear the puppy panting in the trunk" when they arrived at the scene, according to the arrest report.

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Florida police arrested two "smiling" owners after witnesses saw a man strike the "panting" puppy and lock it in their car trunk before going shopping for more than 30 minutes. Kylee Underwood|Facebook

Maurice Sanders, 30, and Keshanna Thompson, 30, of Canton, Mississippi, were arrested and charged with felony aggravated animal cruelty, according to arrest affidavits obtained by the Daytona News-Journal. Both were being held at Bay County Jail on $10,000 bond following their Monday court appearance. Police said they received a call around noon Sunday from witness Kylee Underwood, who posted photos from the incident on social media and later identified the alleged dog abuser as Sanders to police.

Responding officers said they could hear the puppy, described as a brown mixed breed, whining inside and that the dog had been tossed in the small trunk at least 30 minutes beforehand. After being unable to immediately locate the dog's owners inside the Dillard's department store, they broke through the car's back window and pulled down the back seat to rescue the overheated puppy. Officers wrote the trunk was filled with bags and "extremely hot" on a day that saw a heat index of more than 90 degrees, according to weather reports.

Officers released the puppy from the "obviously too small" kennel inside the trunk and provided the panting canine with water. Officers wrote that puppy was "obviously overheated."

Underwood wrote on her Facebook page that she and several others "noticed a guy grabbing a puppy by the neck and throwing it in the trunk of his car, while him and his family just walked on into the mall!!!" She continued, "Us and a couple other people saw him doing this and he just stared right back at us! As soon as he walked off, the cops were called. PCPD showed up and did their job!!! They busted the window to the rental car (they were visiting from Mississippi) and had to pull down the backseat to get to the trunk."

Panama City Police officers confronted the Mississippi couple and Sanders allegedly smiled at them as he admitted placing the dog inside the trunk to avoid urination or defecation on the car's interior. Bay County Animal Control collected the puppy and took the dog to a veterinarian, The puppy was medically cleared late Sunday but veterinarians said the animal was still suffering from a heat-related fever during an examination.

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Maurice Sanders, 30, and Keshanna Thompson, 30, both of Canton, have each been charged with aggravated animal cruelty, a felony. Panama City Police

Several prior Facebook posts from the Panama City Police Department's official page provided summertime warnings to "never leave anyone in a parked car" during such sweltering heat. The department wrote on Facebook Sunday, "Thank you to the citizens who alerted us to the maltreatment of this pup. Our officers were able to rescue her from the TRUNK of a car. Her owners were charged accordingly."

Police Save 'Panting' Puppy Stuffed In Car Trunk, 'Smiling' Owners Arrested For Animal Cruelty | U.S.