Woman's 'lack of concern' for pooch leads to animal cruelty charge

Woman's 'lack of concern' for pooch leads to animal cruelty charge

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A Jonesboro woman claims she left her dog locked in her car for just 22 minutes while she shopped. But, police say store surveillance video tells a different story.

According to the initial police report, a witness told Jonesboro police she saw 58-year-old Cheryl Heskett park her car at the Parker Road Walmart at 5:25 p.m. Wednesday, August 13, and go inside the store.

After waiting a short time to see if Heskett would return, the woman told Officer Timothy Burns she drove home.

Worried for the dog's safety, the witness returned to the store to see if the dog was still locked in the car.

When she saw that it was, she called Walmart to page the owner, the report stated.

After several minutes of waiting, the woman then called police.

Officer Burns arrived at the parking lot at 6:07 p.m. and found the dog “panting very heavily” inside the car.

Burns stated all four windows were cracked open, but “the temperature inside the vehicle was hot.”

Around 6:20 p.m. Heskett returned to the vehicle.

When asked how long she had been gone, Burns said Heskett looked briefly at her phone and said “22 minutes” then asked if that was “excessive.”

While Heskett and Burns were speaking, Margaret Shepherd, the director of the Northeast Arkansas Humane Society, arrived at the scene.

Shepherd said she had received a text message at 5:52 p.m. from the witness asking for assistance.

“Due to Heskett's obvious lack of concern for the dog's welfare,” Burns issued Heskett a citation for animal cruelty. She was given a court date of September 24.

While explaining the citation to her, Burns said Heskett claimed her brother was a lawyer and “she had plenty of contacts.” Heskett reportedly said she would “get this dealt with tomorrow.”

Burns said he told Heskett to not leave the animal in her vehicle anymore to which she reportedly replied, “It's a beautiful, cool day.”

According to the police report, the outside temperature was 86 degrees.

After Heskett left the scene, Burns stated he contacted the store's loss prevention and asked to see security footage.

According to the report, the video showed Heskett parked her car at 5:28 p.m. and did not return until 6:20 p.m.

The video was collected and logged into evidence.

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