PALMETTO (FOX 13) - A longtime animal services employee in Manatee County is under arrest for animal cruelty after allegedly leaving a dog in a hot work van overnight.
The dog died, and the now-former employee - Frederick Browning - says it was a tragic mistake.
Browning told deputies he simply forgot to take the dog out of the van, so it was trapped in the scorching heat for hours, back on May 17.
Randy Warren with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office said Browning picked up three dogs that day. Two were already dead. The third was a brown female mixed breed, called in as a stray.
"He unloaded those, cleaned out the van, and went back into the office, clocked out, went on vacation. It wasn't until the next day they were looking for a dog, they couldn't find him," Warren said.
The workers were looking for that brown mixed breed and when they found her, she was dead; still locked inside the van Browning used the day before.
"Browning was very upset," Warren explained. "He's been cooperative and explained many times that he just had his mind on other things."
A necropsy determined the dog died of heat stroke. The high temperature that day was a blazing 97° F outside. Inside the van, it was even hotter.
"He had this animal in his custody and needed to make sure this animal was taken care of and unfortunately it was a tragic accident," Warren said.
Browning worked with animal services since 2005. Following the dog's death he was put on unpaid leave and later resigned on May 25.
He turned himself in Thursday on animal cruelty charges.
In the wake of this incident, Manatee County Animal Control has put in a new policy: When an employee comes back, a second worker will check the truck to make sure no animals are left inside.