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UPDATE: Justice Was Not Served for a Puppy Cooked Alive by the Sun in Texas

UPDATE: Justice Was Not Served for a Puppy Cooked Alive by the Sun in Texas

We are appalled at the sentencing of a Texas woman who pled guilty to crating her daughter’s puppy on her driveway in the sweltering heat, causing her to suffer horribly and subsequently die of heatstroke.

Warning! Distressing content.

On June 26, 2023, Michelle Marie Bradford was sentenced to 10 years of incarceration for the puppy’s agonizing death; however, she will only serve 10 years of probation. She may not purchase, own, possess, or care for any animal during the term of her probation and thankfully must undergo mental health and substance abuse evaluations. 

We sent a letter to District Attorney Bob Wortham supporting the prosecution of Bradford that was signed by 15,669 concerned In Defense of Animals supporters, asking that she receive no plea deal. It’s a grave disappointment that Bradford essentially got a deal and nothing but a slap on the proverbial wrist.

On July 13, 2022, Groves Police Department, Sgt. John Hudson received a report of a puppy dying in the sun. His officers and Groves Animal Control Officer S. Esquivel responded to the report that a puppy lay dead in an uncovered crate with an empty bowl. According to police, it was 94 degrees that day with a heat advisory in effect; the heat index was between 108 and 112 degrees when the call for help came in.

A video capturing the puppy's last moments was taken by neighbor Heather Gay’s 10-year-old stepson. In the video, the puppy was screaming and rolling on her back. The boy was afraid to approach the driveway because his stepmother had experienced a previous confrontation with Bradford. In less than a half-an-hour, it was too late to save the puppy. She lay dead in her metal tomb.

At the time of the investigation, Bradford claimed that she did not know that her daughter had dropped her grandson and the pup off earlier. She later came clean and said she simply forgot the puppy was outside. Post necropsy, Officer Esquivel told KFDM news that the puppy's internal body temperature was still 106 degrees hours after her death. He described an agonizing death as the puppy cooked in the sun.

Detective Mark Blum and Lieutenant Detective Robert Phillips completed the investigation, and Jefferson County District Attorney Bob Wortham accepted the third-degree felony cruelty to a non-livestock animal charge, which carries a sentence of 2-10 years. On September 1, 2022, Honorable Judge Benjamin Collins issued an arrest warrant for Bradford. She was transported to the Jefferson County Correctional Facility. Though she bonded out, she was ordered to wear an ankle bracelet.

While the outcome is not anywhere near as strong as it should have been, we’ll continue to advocate for animal victims of cruelty. To find out how you can help, visit our Justice for Animals campaign.

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