Dog dies after being left on Tampa hotel balcony in afternoon heat

TAMPA — A 29-year-old man faces a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge after his dog died Thursday after being left on a hotel balcony for several hours.

Wombley, a 1-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, was found dead at about 7:30 p.m. Thursday on a second-floor balcony at the Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk Hotel, 200 N Ashley St.

Near it was a dried-up water bowl.

The dog belonged to Carlos Rodriguez, who recently moved to Tampa from South Carolina.

Rodriguez had left the dog outside since 11 a.m., officials said.

"I don't necessarily believe that there was an intent to harm," said Marti Ryan, a spokeswoman for Hillsborough County Animal Services. "I think this guy wasn't thinking."

Rodriguez, who officials said is in the military, told investigators he and his family had gone to lunch and to look for a place to live.

He could not be reached for comment Friday.

Ryan said there was a crate inside the hotel room that the dog could have stayed in.

Investigators found evidence, including saliva and scratch marks, that the dog fought to stay alive.

It was unclear just when the dog had died. Someone at the hotel reported hearing a bark at about 3 p.m., about the time temperatures peaked at 93 degrees.

By the time the Lab was found, rigor mortis had set in.

Animal officials plan to do a necropsy, Ryan said.

This incident should serve as a reminder about the dangers of leaving pets outdoors and assuming they will be okay, she said.

"A little while is too long in the Florida heat," Ryan said. "I just want to keep this from happening. The dog paid the ultimate price."

Times staff writer Stephanie Hayes contributed to this report. Kameel Stanley can be reached at (727) 893-8643 or kstanley@sptimes.com.

Dog dies after being left on Tampa hotel balcony in afternoon heat 08/21/09 [Last modified: Saturday, August 22, 2009 12:50am]

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