CROCKETT, TX (KTRE) - Crockett Police officers arrested a 43-year-old woman on an animal cruelty charge on Friday after she allegedly left her Chihuahua -mix dog in her van for the second time in less than a month.
Darla Marie Fincham, of Crockett, was booked into the Houston County Jail on a Class A misdemeanor charge of cruelty to non-livestock animals. She posted her bail and was released from the jail later that day.
According to the arrest affidavit East Texas News obtained Monday, a Crockett Police officer and an animal control officer were dispatched out to the Walmart store located at 1225 E. Loop 304 in reference to an animal being left in an unattended vehicle on July 23. When the officers arrived on the scene, they found a Chihuahua-mix dog in a blue Dodge van.
The front driver's side and passenger's side windows were cracked open about an inch, according to the affidavit. The animal control officer tried to locate the owner of the van inside Walmart but had no luck.
Upon talking to the complainant, the officers learned that when the woman arrived at Walmart, she noticed a couple looking at the dog inside the vehicle. When the woman asked how long the dog had been in the van, they allegedly told her that it had been at least 20 minutes, if not longer.
At that point, the Crockett Police officer used a "Slim Jim" to get into the locked van. After the officers got into the vehicle, they found that the dog, which was later identified as Fiona, was panting heavily and appeared dehydrated.
The animal control officer transported Fiona to a Crockett veterinary clinic. According to the affidavit, the vet told the officer that the dog's body temperature was 104.8 degrees and that Fiona would need intravenous fluids.
A veterinarian's report stated that the dog's gums were very red and dry, which indicated "physical stress and dehydration." Fiona was released to Fincham later that day.
Later, the Crockett PD officer was able to make contact with Fincham, Fiona's owner. Fincham admitted that she had left the dog inside the van with a cup of water while she shopped in Walmart. She also told him that she "cracked" the windows.
According to the affidavit, the Weather Channel reported an outside temperature of 93 degrees and a heat index of 101 degrees on July 23.
Crockett's animal control officer reported to a similar incident at the town's HEB store on July 7, the affidavit stated. On that date, the animal control officer allegedly warned Fincham about the dangers of leaving Fiona in a hot vehicle.