TRUSSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama woman charged with animal cruelty after her dog died while locked in a hot car Wednesday said she doesn’t recall the events that led to the animal’s death.
Stephanie Shae Thomas, 34, of Trussville, Alabama, told WVTM-TV in an interview Friday she is a longtime drug addict with bipolar disorder, and she recently ran out of her medication.
Thomas said she didn’t remember driving to the Walmart store where the animal, a 7-year-old rescue named Sky, died in the parking lot in an incident captured on video.
“Just thinking about what she went through the last moments she was alive,” Thomas said. “She had to be waiting for me to come out there and help her. And I didn’t.”
Authorities said the animal was in the car for as long as seven hours, when temperatures soared into the 90s.
Thomas was released on $25,000 bond early Friday after spending a few hours in custody, Jefferson County jail records showed.
Police had to break a window to get to the dog, which had been left in the car outside a Walmart in Trussville. Video shot by a bystander showed officers unsuccessfully trying to revive the animal.
Court records weren’t available to show whether Thomas had a lawyer who could speak on her behalf. But Thomas told the TV station she wished she could change things.
“Ultimately, I killed my dog,” Thomas said through tears. “I can’t change that. I want to, but I can’t.”
Lt. Phil Dillon told news outlets Thomas went to the Trussville Police Department the day after the dog died and told officers she left the dog in her vehicle while she went inside to shop.
Store workers paged the woman over a public address system several times but there was no response, he said.
Thomas told al.com she doesn’t understand why she was in the store for hours and learned something was wrong after she checked out when a Walmart worker said, “The police are looking for you.”
Thomas said she was confused when she walked outside because it was hot and bright — she’d gone inside when it was dark and cooler.
“I didn’t see Sky and I asked the police where she was. They said, ‘Your dog is dead.’ I didn’t know what time it was because I hadn’t looked at my phone,” Thomas said.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.