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Woman charged after dog dies in hot van

A Thomson woman is out on bail after being jailed for the death of a dog that suffocated in a van after temperatures rose into triple digits last week.

Thomson Police Chief Joseph D. Nelson said 33-year-old Rochelle McCord, of the 100 block of Shank Street, was arrested on July 6 in connection with the dog's death. Ms. McCord was charged with one count of cruelty to animals.

After being taken into custody, the suspect was taken to the McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center. She since has been released on $1,050 bail, a jail spokeswoman said.

A man and his sister reportedly watched a neighbor place a white dog into a parked gray van about 9:30 a.m., according to a report filed by TPD Sgt. Scott Whittle. Robert Smith told the officer the dog was not removed from the van until about 6:30 p.m. He also indicated the dog appeared dead when someone retrieved it from the van.

Sgt. Whittle later questioned Ms. McCord.

Ms. McCord said the dog had broken its chain that she had it on in her backyard and had been roaming freely in the neighborhood, scaring some who live in the area. She decided to put the dog in the van to keep it from running loose while she went to the store to purchase another chain. She claimed she was gone for less than an hour and when she returned discovered that the dog had died.

Sgt. Whittle said in his report that Ms. McCord had cracked the windows in the van so the dog could breathe.

During further probe of the case, Sgt. Whittle spoke to Tyrall Rittley who admitted removing the dog from the residence and taking it down Randall Hunt Road where he dropped it off.

The dog's body was recovered and properly disposed of by authorities.

A second dog, which was chained up in the yard of the McCord residence, later was removed from the scene by McDuffie County Code Enforcement Officer Gail Newsome, who also heads the county's animal control shelter. Ms. McCord explained that she needed to put the dog down because she was no longer able to keep it for a friend.

Sgt. Whittle received assistance in the case from Investigator Capt. Jamie Bridges.

Web posted on Thursday, July 15, 2010

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