Roanoke County residents face animal cruelty charges after dogs found locked in a hot car

Published: Jun. 27, 2023 at 7:07 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Two Roanoke County residents are facing felony animal cruelty charges after two dogs were found locked inside their car Sunday afternoon.

One of the dogs died from signs of heat stroke.

WDBJ7 first learned about this incident Sunday, when we obtained a video posted to social media of two dogs inside a car, with only the windows cracked.

The woman who took the video, Victoria Owens, called police after she says she couldn’t get ahold of the owners. One of the dogs passed away by the time police got them out.

Owens was completing a Door Dash order when she came across the scene that she says broke her heart.

“It was about 90 degrees and they [the dogs] were parked in direct sunlight, no shade at all, and it was a black vehicle so that car was hot,” Owens said. “It was bad.”

WDBJ7 spoke exclusively with Owens who explained the dogs were inside the hot car for at least 15 minutes.

“It was very heartbreaking. As a bully owner myself, I own a pit bull boxer mix and I’ve owned bulldogs in the past, I know they cannot handle the heat,” Owens said. “They should not be in extreme heat at all.”

The dog that survived went to Emergency Veterinary & Specialty Services in Roanoke for heat stroke.

“It can be life-threatening, it truly can,” veterinarian Dr. Sara Wilkinson said. “When we think about leaving a dog, locked in a vehicle, even cracking the window is not enough to just allow good airflow. The temperature is still going to elevate.”

Dr. Wilkinson explained if you see a dog in a hot car, call the police, but don’t try to break in.

“Unfortunately, there is no good Samaritan law that protects us from cracking a window if we see a dog that looks stressed.”

Roanoke Police arrested James Lipscomb and Ashleigh Hutton Sunday; they face two counts each of felony animal cruelty. Police seized two more dogs from Lipscomb’s and Hutton’s home.

Roanoke Police Department animal wardens also filed a petition to get custody of the rest of the dogs at their home.