James L. Wiggins pleaded not guilty in Skowhegan District Court on Wednesday for animal cruelty after dragging his dog along a Maine sidewalk on perhaps the hottest day of the year. The dog named Bella died on July 15, from heat exhaustion and hyperthermia (heat related elevated body temperature).
The temperature that day was 88 degrees with humidity nearly as high to match.
According to the Morning Sentinel, Bella, 43, the four-year-old dog was transported to the Kennebec Veterinarian Service where she died after police tried to cool her down in an effort to save her life.
Wiggins has been charged with Class D misdemeanor animal cruelty punishable by one year in jail or a $1,000 fine.
On July 14, there were multiple reports of Wiggins dragging the Beagle mix. Witnesses say Wiggins appeared intoxicated. When authorities arrived at Wiggins home on Norridgewock Road, Bella was panting heavily and could not lift her head. She also suffered from abrasions along her belly and on her paws.
Wiggins was released on a $1,000 bail and is scheduled to appear at the Skowhegan District Court on Nov. 20. Records show Wiggins has made application for a public defender.
Rest in peace Bella.
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