Animal cruelty charges dismissed
By Ashley McLeod, Staff Writer
Jun 3, 2014, 13:17
CHESTERFIELD — A Prince George woman charged with two felony counts of animal cruelty had both charges dismissed in a Chesterfield courtroom last Thursday.
Linda Pegram had been charged with two felony counts of animal cruelty, which are considered a class 6 felonies, and are punishable by a maximum 10 year sentence.
On April 10, 2013, Ken Jensen pulled his truck into the parking lot at the Wal-Mart located on Iron Bridge Road in Chesterfield when he noticed a vehicle parked in the fire lane near the home and garden section. Jensen also noticed that there was an animal crate in the back of the car, and there were no windows cracked. According to Jensen, the weather on this day was unusually hot for April, which made him look further at the crate after parking his truck in the lot.
After seeing that there were in fact animals in the crate, Jensen called 911 to report the animals were locked in a car with no cracked windows. Jensen informed a Wal-Mart employee of the car as well, who reported to a manager, who then made several announcements over the store’s speaker system about the car. None of the announcements calling for the car owner were answered by Pegram or any other shopper.
Officer Orange with the Chesterfield Police Department arrived on scene and witnessed two dogs inside of the crate in the car. The officer broke a window in order to get into the car and remove the crate from the heat inside the car. By the time the crate was removed, both dogs had already perished.
Officer Ron Leinberger with animal control arrived on the scene shortly after the dogs were pulled from the car. According to Leinberger, who did a temperature reading inside and outside of the car, the car’s interior temperature was 99.5 degrees, and was probably higher before police entered the vehicle.
Pegram arrived back at the vehicle shortly after animal control arrived, telling the officers that she wasn’t inside the store for long, and thought the dogs would be OK staying in the car.
According to video from the Wal-Mart parking lot surveillance, Pegram arrived at the Wal-Mart at 12:13 p.m. The tape also shows Jensen’s truck arriving at approximately 1:15 pm, police arriving on scene at 1:27 p.m., and animal control arriving at 1:35 pm.
Following a necropsy on the two canines, both animals cause of death was overheating.
“Basically they drowned in their own fluids, caused by overheating,” said Dr. Wayne Dunnavent, who examined the canines.
During the trial, Pegram’s attorney argued that Pegram did not intentionally hurt the dogs, and that statutes state there must be a willful act in which she would have had to torture or inflict pain on the animals.
Following arguments, Chesterfield Circuit Court Judge Harold W. Burgess Jr. dismissed the case, dropping both charges against Pegram.