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Woman Faces Prison After Dog's Hot Car Death

Stephanie Thomas charged with felony animal cruelty; criminal past could mean long sentence
By Josh Gardner,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2018 7:30 AM CDT
Stephanie Shae Thomas, 34, says she doesn't remember driving to Walmart with her dog   (Jefferson County Sheriff's Department)

(Newser) – A woman faces charges after her dog's death inside her car on a hot Alabama summer day. Stephanie Shae Thomas was in a Trussville Walmart while her 7-year-old rescue pit bull sat inside her Mercedes in the parking lot on July 4, per WVTM. A passerby spotted the dog, named Sky, and became concerned after seeing she was breathing heavily and having trouble responding to taps on the window. The windows were up and, per NBC News, several people tried desperately to break into the car before police arrived and smashed a window. Sky reportedly died moments later after what was reportedly a 7-hour ordeal inside the car.

Now charged with animal cruelty, Thomas appeared regretful when interviewed by local reporters and says she suffers from bipolar disorder and had recently run out of her medication. Parking lot cameras show that she drove to Walmart about 4am, but Thomas doesn't even recall making the trip. “It don’t matter what I remember, my dog is dead," she said. "And I can’t change it." Thomas admits to a years-long struggle with drug addiction that has landed her in jail before, including for heroin possession. She was released on $25,000 bond early Friday after being charged with animal cruelty. While the maximum sentence for such a charge is 10 years, Thomas's criminal history could mean she faces up to life in prison for the felony. (Read more hot cars stories.)

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