‘Horrible death’: 2 arrested after chained dog found dead in hot car, police say

Hot car

INDIANAPOLIS — A couple is facing charges after they allegedly left a dog chained in a hot car, leading to the death of the animal in soaring temperatures, authorities said.

According to Marion County online court documents, Charles E. Thomas, 53, and Norma J. Light, 74, were arrested on June 20, for allegedly leaving a pit bull named Masus in the vehicle, WISH-TV reported. Thomas was arrested on a felony charge of animal cruelty-kill and Light was charged with one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty, according to the television station.

Officers with the Indianapolis Metro Police Department responded to the Intown Suites Hotel at W. 85th Street at about 6 p.m. EDT after receiving a report of a dog left inside a Chevrolet, WXIN-TV reported.

Officers arriving at the scene were directed to the north side of the building, where the suspected vehicle was parked, according to the television station.

Court documents stated that the hotel manager told police the couple checked into the hotel at about 3:10 p.m. EDT, WTHR-TV reported.

The manager said he became aware there were animals in the vehicle when a German Shepherd inside the car was able to honk the horn, according to the television station.

The windows were cracked and the engine was turned off, WXIN reported.

After investigating, the manager called animal control. He said he spoke to Light, who allegedly told him that the pit bull, the German Shepherd and one cat were left in the vehicle because the hotel was not pet-friendly, WTHR reported. She said the pit bull belonged to Thomas, while she was the owner of the other two animals.

According to WISH, only service animals are permitted inside the hotel.

Court documents stated that Thomas walked up to the vehicle and told police that the pit bull was dead, WXIN reported. Officers found the German Shepherd panting in the back seat of the vehicle.

Police also observed a chain that had held the pit bull was tied to the floorboard of the car with a weight, WISH reported.

Masus was confirmed dead by Animal Control and collected. The cat and German Shepherd were given water and taken to an air-conditioned area, according to the television station.

“It’s horrible because it’s so preventable, you know? You just have to have some empathy for these dogs that they are suffering as much if not more than we are in this heat,” Darcie Kurtz, executive director of the Friends of Indianapolis Dogs Outside, told WXIN. “Think about having a fur coat.

“The signs of heat stroke, they are panting like crazy then they become confused, disoriented, uncoordinated, they are frantic to get out. It’s a horrible feeling, then they collapse and ultimately they can die of heatstroke. It’s a horrible death.”

According to police, the temperature outside was 90 degrees when officers arrived at the hotel, WTHR reported.

“We can’t leave children in the backseat. We can’t leave dogs in the back seat. It’s way too hot even just for a couple of minutes,” IMPD officer Amanda Hivschman told WXIN. “We want to remind residents that city ordinance states that you need to bring your animals inside when it’s over 90 degrees outside or when there’s a heat advisory in effect.”

Thomas and Light were booked into the Marion County Jail. They are scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday, records show.

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