CLEARWATER — An off-duty police officer rescued a dog that was trapped inside a hot car Friday afternoon in Clearwater Beach by smashing the car's window with a baton.
The dog's owner was later arrested on animal cruelty charges.
Clearwater police Sgt. Joel Morley was working an off-duty job at Pier 60 when someone approached him just before 5 p.m. and told him about the distressed dog. Morley found the dog, a 3-year-old pit bull-terrier mix. It was locked inside the car, which was parked with the windows rolled up and no running air inside, according to police.
Morley waited with concerned bystanders to see if the car's owner might return. When the dog started to appear anxious, Morley grabbed a baton and smashed one of the car's windows, police said.
The dog was taken out of the car and given water, which it slurped down, police said.
The dog, named Power, was taken in by the Tampa Bay chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Power's owner, Melody E. Dayer, 20, returned to the car about an hour later. She appeared drunk, police said, and admitted she left the dog inside the car while she was hanging out in the area.
Dayer, who was visiting Clearwater from Tennessee, was arrested on a charge of animal cruelty, police said.
Morley, 44, has been a Clearwater police officer since 2001. He served the department in various roles before being promoted to sergeant in 2011.