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Woman charged with cruelty for leaving two dogs in vehicle
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Debra King, 51, right, voiced her displeasure with officer Mike Espinosa after he and animal control officer Les Rowe questioned the Manteca woman about leaving her two dogs in her closed up vehicle in the next door driveway of an abandoned house in the 100 block of North Sherman Avenue Thursday. Sgt. Julie Renfro listens to the discussion. - photo by GLENN KAHL
Debra King, 51, was charged with animal cruelty after Manteca Police officers found her two dogs locked in her 1980s Honda Prelude.

Manteca animal control officer Les Rowe answered an anonymous call that the dogs had been repeatedly left in the car with the windows rolled up - dating back to December.

Rowe said he arrived to find the dogs without food and water. There was a large beach towel covering the back and the side windows. The driver’s side window was cracked open about two inches.

He said the car had scattered dog feces on the floor boards of the vehicle and behind the seats as well as in the area next to the rear window. Citizen crime watch reports from the neighborhood told officers the animals had been left almost on a daily basis in the car while the residents were away from the home.

Rowe knocked on the doors of the two adjacent houses repeatedly, and no one answered, he said. Manteca Police officer Mike Espinosa and Sergeant Julie Renfro arrived on the scene to determine what they would do with the animals. They said they didn’t want to break a window to get them out for fear it would injure one of the animals or that they might jump out of the window before they could control them.

The dogs would bark at the officers sporadically, and then retreat to the coolest place in the vehicle -- the front floor boards.

After about 45 minutes King, the owner of the dogs, arrived home and displayed her displeasure with the officers for telling her it was wrong to leave the animals in the vehicle.

Police used the woman’s keys to remove the dogs from the car with a small lasso taking them to the Manteca animal control shelter. They said the dogs would probably not be returned to the family due to the alleged ill treatment they received.

The animal control officer had a difficult time snagging the dogs in the car because they had become agitated in the vehicle and appeared frightened in the ordeal.

Officer Espinosa said he knew they dogs had been kept there for several months, because they startled him when he was on a late night foot pursuit into the back yard of the abandoned home - barking at him as he ran by the vehicle.

Registration on the car had been out of date since October.