Candlelight vigil planned honor puppy found dead leading to woman’s arrest

Published 12:38 am Thursday, September 15, 2022

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GROVES — Rhonda Girard had tears in her eyes Wednesday afternoon as she spoke about the death of a puppy found in a Groves yard with no food or water.

Since 2010, the Mid County woman has served as a volunteer for various animal rescue groups — first the Humane Society of Southeast Texas and now Beaumont Animal Care.

And as news began to spread on social media about the animal cruelty case from July 13, she and other members of the rescue community grouped together to organize a vigil for the young dog.

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“I couldn’t bear to think of his life being in vain,” Girard said. “I just wanted to honor him, so I suggested us putting together a candlelight vigil in his honor and also bring awareness to animal abuse and animal cruelty.”

Justice for Justice will take place across the street from the Groves Activity Center, 6150 39th Street, Saturday at 6 p.m.

One of the rescuers, she said, named him Justice.

The animal was found in a kennel in direct sunlight without food or water after a child saw him and recorded a video.

The National Weather Service on that day recorded the heat index to reach 108 degrees or higher.

According to a probable cause affidavit, a Groves officer found the dog in the 3100 block of Taft Avenue.

The resident of the house reportedly told police the animal had been dropped off with her grandson that afternoon, and the two went inside and forgot about the puppy.

A necropsy performed by a local veterinarian suggested the dog died from heat stroke.

Michelle Bradford

On Sept. 1, Michelle Bradford, 42, was arrested and charged with cruelty to non-livestock animals. If found guilty of the third-degree felony, Bradford faces two to 10 years in prison.

According to records from the Jefferson County Correctional Facility, she is no longer an inmate.

“We just want the public to know that enough is enough,” Girard said. “In our area we’re having a problem with shelters and rescues being overcrowded. The rescues operate solely on fosters, and we’re desperately in need of fosters.”

But another problem constantly being battled is when people surrender their own animals.

“People are surrendering their animals left and right like they’re trash,” Girard said. “We don’t understand why people take animals if they won’t make a lifetime commitment. Animals have feelings. When you bring them to a shelter, when it’s loud and crazy and hectic and there are so many animals, it’s traumatizing. They’re scared.”