GROVES, Texas — A woman was indicted for felony animal cruelty for the death of a puppy found in a kennel in the sun outside a Groves home with no water in July.
Michelle Marie Bradford, 42, was arrested on September 1 by Groves Police officers.
Bradford was indicted with "animal cruelty of a non-livestock animal" which is a third degree felony.
Bradford's bond was set at $25,000, but she bonded out. She must wear an ankle monitor.
She could face a two to 10 year prison sentence if convicted.
On July 13, 2022, at around 3:23 p.m. Officer Macie Bergeron of the Groves Police Department responded to 3122 Taft Avenue to assist animal control officers in reference to a deceased puppy, according to a probable cause affidavit.
The dog had been left in a cage on the driveway in direct sunlight without shade, food or water. On that date and time, a heat advisory from the National Weather Service was in effect.
The temperature was listed at 94 degrees with a heat index between 100 and 112 degrees, according to the affidavit.
During the investigation, Officer Bergeron spoke with Bradford, who said her daughter had left the puppy at the home without her knowledge.
The deceased puppy was collected and transported to the Foskey Veterinary Clinic in West Orange for necropsy, according to the affidavit.
Dr. Blake Foskey, DVM concluded that the puppy had died of "heat stroke with subsequent disseminated intravascular coagulation."
Bradford was contacted during a follow-up investigation, where she admitted she had gone insider the home with her grandson and forgot about the dog until the police arrived.
She told police she had lied at first because she was scared.
The puppy’s death sparked an outrage, with many Southeast Texans demanding a swift arrest. Animal advocates nicknamed the puppy Justice.
“This little baby died a horrific, agonizing death,” Rhonda Girard, animal activist, said. “No one came to help him. No one saved him and he died.”
Girard has been following the case since it began. While she is relieved an arrest has been made, she believes more can and needs to be done.
“It shows people in our area that we are serious,” Girard said. “We are getting more serious about our animals. Torturing animals, abusing animals, neglecting animals. We aren't going to stand by and let it happen.”
Activists such as Renee’ Anthony also believe more change needs to happen.
“We need to get laws changed in the state of Texas, and I think this is going to be an example we could take to the state of Texas,” Anthony said. “I hope that we can prosecute to the fullest extent, and they don't get a slap on the wrist.”
Representatives with the Humane Society of Southeast Texas expressed how happy they are that those responsible are being held accountable.
"I am glad that it was done to show that people aren't going to get away with stuff like this when they do it," Mary said.