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Charleston physician accused of leaving 9 dogs to die inside of vehicle

Charles A. Bickerstaff
Booking photo

Nine dogs who were left inside of a parked SUV on a hot afternoon in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., died and their owner, who is a local physician, has been arrested on felony charges, reported Wednesday's publication of the Post and Courier.

According to Mount Pleasant Police, 64-year-old Charles A. Bickerstaff, of James Island, left his nine Cavalier King Charles Spaniels crated inside of his vehicle, without food or water, for several hours while he performed rounds at the East Cooper Medical Center on Monday.

During the estimated three hours that the dogs were confined to the parked vehicle, outside temperatures ranged between 73 and 82 degrees; according to Bickerstaff's attorney, the accused doctor "thought the dogs would be safe" crated within the parked Ford Explorer. According to ABC News 4, Bickerstaff did not leave the vehicle's windows cracked while he was away.

Bickerstaff apparently did not realize that the dogs were dead - according to Count On News 2, after discovering the motionless dogs inside of his SUV, he went to the Mount Pleasant Emergency Vet believing that the dogs had "passed out." According to the Post and Courier publication, several of the dogs had been dead long enough that rigor mortis had already set in.

Staff at the veterinary clinic reached out to the authorities, who arrested Bickerstaff on Wednesday morning; bail was set at $90,000.

Bickerstaff's attorney, Bill Thrower, stated that his client "feels as bad as anybody," about the death of his dogs.

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