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Dead Baby on Board

baby%20on%20board%20car%20window%20sign.jpgOK. I realize that the whole Michael Vick/dog-fighting thing raised a lot of awareness about animal cruelty — if there is any silver lining in this cloud, it is that. But, as a society, are we already starting to weigh the importance of a dog’s life over a human’s?

I ask simply because I found these two stories while searching the net today. In the first case, a Cincinnati assistant principal — who got distracted from her daily routine when she stopped off to get doughnuts on the way to work (not kidding) — accidentally left her two-year-old daughter strapped in her car suit. In her SUV. On a day when temperatures hovered around 100 degrees. Brenda Nesselroad-Slaby thought she’d dropped her child off at day care, only to discover when she returned to her SUV eight hours later, that her daughter was dead.

That sucks.

But, then, I see this other story involving a Phoenix police officer, Tom Lovejoy. He had a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois named Bandit. During a 109-degree day, the officer left his dog in the car for an entire day while he ran errands, took a nap, and hung out with his wife. By day’s end, his dog was dead.

So: Which of these folks do you think was charged with a crime? If you said the police officer, you get a gold star. That’s right — Sgt. Lovejoy was charged with one count of animal cruelty, while charges were not brought against Brenda Nesselroad-Slaby because her “substantial lapse of due care” did not meet the definition of criminal recklessness.

There’s a lesson here, but — the title of this post notwithstanding — I’m not tacky enough to say what it is.

| Comments (6)


This has been going on for years. In the same week a man was witnessed kicking his dog (the dog lived) and got 5 months jail time, Latasha Harlins' killer got 5 years probation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latasha_Harlins) and helped start the LA Riots.

But it took two weeks for him to be charged with the crime, and it wasn't even by his own police force. The Sheriff is the one who brought charges and there was a lot of uproar in the Valley about what needed to happen. Some people think it should be a felony, hold Lovejoy responsible for the death of a police officer.

Another Chandler case involing the death of 3 month old Amberlee Brown (whose dad left her in an SUV) is still under investigation - so I guess when that's concluded we'll see how Chandler fairs with equal and/or proportional justice?

Isn't the difference due at least in part to the sense that people whose stupidity results in the death of their own children will "suffer enough" all on their own, while those who stupidly cause the death of animals, even their own pets, might not have the inherent decency to feel as bad as they ought?

I remember a bunch of instances of baby-dies-after-being-left-in-car-all-day one summer about 10 years ago, and so much of the "man on the street" press was about the cruelty of possible criminal action on top of having to live with what s/he had done, possible (likely) divorce, etc. Got to think judges fall prey to that line of thinking as well.

The Cincinnati woman was filmed returning to her car several times that day - to get doughnuts. Funny how she never noticed her child sitting up in the back seat. Even funnier how she got in and drove the car and still didn't notice her own child.

Remember, not everything is as it first seems. We were going to write a comprehensive analysis of many possibilities, including a thorough defense strategy (based on the limited facts we have.) But we couldn't with all the facts.

However we will preface the following more 'general' points to ponder.

The newspapers account is probably not accurate or in context.
There may very well be a good defense and/or further explanation.
There may be other contributing 'political' factors, that have risen to his arrest, and a criminal filing (much of the defense investigation will be spent here.) Then depending on the findings, the defense may want to subpoena the Sheriff.
One of the Sheriffs quotes alone raised suspicions of an agenda/bias.
We do not know the 'elements' of the crime to satisfy the 'crime' of 'animal neglect' in Arizona. But whether it is a 'specific intent,' or a 'general intent' crime.' We believe the prosecutors will not be able to prove either. Sometimes bad things just happen. At least it wasn't a kid left in the car. Remember he was dealing with his kids, one whom was just in a car accident.
We (as most) have frequently seen police dogs (aka K-9s) left alone in the back seats of police vehicles. But almost always 'when it is hot,' the engine is running, which we'd assume the air conditioning is cooling the K-9 down. But yikes? In California, it is illegal to leave the engine running in an unoccupied vehicle. And the police are not exempt from that vehicle code. Darn it if they do, and darn if they don't.
In the meantime, I hope that Sgt Lovejoy invoked his fifth amendment rights, as this process takes place (unlike Senator Craig.) I also encourage him to not take a plea bargain, and fight this all the way to a jury trial. Don't settle for an average attorney. Retain a cutting edge defense 'team.' Because this case will make national precedence.


It's highly unlikely that the distracted mom poses an actual threat to society. It was one horrible mistake, but she forgot the child was there, thinking she'd been dropped off at day care. The guy with the dog left it in the car with full knowledge of its whereabouts.
Which of these behaviours really shows negligence?
Also, what is the point of further punishing her? Do you honestly believe this woman will ever have a moment of peace again in her entire existence?