Woman sentenced to 2 years in prison after dog dies in hot car

ExploreMore popular and trending stories

A Memphis woman will spend two years in prison after her dog died in her hot car while she was shopping at Wolfchase Galleria.

Alexis Cain was convicted of aggravated cruelty to animals, after her three-month-old puppy died in July when it was left in her car. The temperature outside at the time was 99 degrees.

“They recorded [the dog’s] internal temperature as 110 degrees, which is the most their thermometer would go,” Katie Pemberton, of the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County, said.

Explore>> Read more trending stories

Investigators say shoppers saw the dog in the car and called police. Officers were able to get the dog out, but it later died.

Attorneys and animal rights activists said the two-year sentence is unusually long.

“This two-year sentence is not the norm based on what we’ve seen,” Pemberton said. “But we believe it should be the norm.”

Lorda McClusky, a local defense attorney, told FOX13 several factors help determine a defendant’s punishment if he or she is convicted.

“There’s ranges,” McClusky said. “It depends on the history of the individual. What you get charged with depends on the facts and circumstances.”

According to state law, a Class E Felony carries a sentence of one to six years in prison. Animal cruelty cases are bumped from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E Felony if the defendant has prior offenses.

“I can’t say it’s abnormal, because it’s in the range of punishment allowed by law,” McClusky said. “Is it unusual? I think it may be something that we haven’t seen so often in the past.”

FOX13 checked court records, and found no prior charges against Cain in the state of Tennessee.

Pemberton said the sentence is a sign that the court system is starting to hold animal abusers accountable.

“There are a lot of citizens out there that support tougher penalties and we want to see this stuff taken seriously, and in this case it was,” Pemberton said. “We need to educate people that when it’s above 70 degrees it is not safe to leave an animal or a person in the car.”

Cain plans to file a petition for a suspended sentence, which would allow her to serve her jail time at home, similar to a probation.

ExploreFOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13