Puppy saved from hot car, suspects arrested

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Two people have been arrested for leaving a puppy in a hot car.

On Tuesday, May 31, officers assigned to the North Precinct were dispatched to an animal complaint call at the Mall of Georgia in front of the JCPenney store.  The 911 caller told the dispatcher that she heard a dog inside vehicle panting and crying.

The officers met with the 911 caller along with mall security next to a parked black BMW.  They could hear the dog crying.  The windows of the vehicle were rolled down about 2-3 inches.  When the officer tried to peek inside the car, he noticed the smell of marijuana.  He also saw a small white and tan puppy hiding under the passenger seat.  The puppy was crying, panting, and breathing heavily. 

After observing that the outdoor temperature was about 90 degrees, the officer used his expandable baton and broke the passenger window of the vehicle.  After the officer retrieved the puppy, the responding officers got the small dog some water and immediately placed her in an air-conditioned patrol car. 

After reviewing parking lot security footage, it was determined that the driver parked the car at 5 p.m. before entering the mall. 

Eventually, the occupants of the vehicle came back outside.  They told the officer that they just went in for a few minutes.  An Animal Control Officer arrived at the scene and determined that the internal temperature of the car was 98 degrees.  The puppy, named Coco, was taken to an emergency veterinarian. 

Eventually, suspected marijuana was found in the vehicle. 

The occupants of the vehicle, Somsanit Thammavong and Cala Raeann Franks, were both placed under arrest and charged with Cruelty to Animals and Possession of Marijuana.

The puppy is currently being cared for at the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter pending the outcome of this case. 

Gwinnett County Ordinance 10-53 states, “A law enforcement officer may use any force necessary to remove any animal locked in a closed vehicle when the ambient temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit or above outside the vehicle.  If the vehicle is damaged during such removal, the law enforcement officer shall not be liable for any damage to the vehicle.”

The Gwinnett County Police Department urges anyone who observes an animal inside a hot car to call 911 immediately.  Because of the observant citizen in this case, this puppy’s life was likely saved.