AUSTIN (KXAN) – Austin police say a dog in distress being helped by witnesses later died from, what an expert declared to be, heat stroke. The dog’s owner was charged with Animal Cruelty after repeatedly lying to police, they said.
According to an arrest document, officers responded to a home in the 3500 block of Sand Dunes Avenue after witnesses called police for an animal in severe distress. A Rottweiler named Dimitri, owned by Israel Stovall, 32, was found dead on Saturday, June 27.
According to a witness who called police several times that day, Dimitri was barking for over two hours and was beginning to sound increasingly worse. The witness told police she attempted to check on the dog after hearing him wheezing and found him tangled in his leash.
According to the witness, it seemed Dimitri was struggling to get out of his tethered leash and was panicking. She stated his leash was not able to reach his dog house and a nearby water bowl was empty.
The witness said Dimitri began to have seizures and became unresponsive as she held him around 4:20 p.m. She told police she left his body on the porch and note on the home’s door. When police arrived to question the homeowner after 7 p.m., the note and Dimitri’s body had been removed.
Upon questioning, Stovall, who said she was not home at the time of Dimitri’s death, told police she believed he had been bitten by a snake. She told police she was in Dallas and her cousin had been watching him. According to Stovall, her cousin buried Dimitri “on some family land out in the country.” She would not tell police where the land was or which family member the land belonged to.
Investigators found a call to 311 from Stovall’s cell phone made on the day Dimitri died at 4:45 p.m. A female caller could be heard saying she needed Animal Control because her “dog got stuck and was dead in the backyard.” Police determined the caller sounded like Stovall. A search warrant for phone records confirmed she made the call.
Police said the way Austin 311 works, a person must be in Central Texas to reach it. If she was in Dallas, as she claimed, she would have reached Dallas 311. Police said Stovall later told them she was in Houston.
Police determined at the approximate time of Dimitri’s death, the temperature was around 90 degrees, and 10 to 25 degrees higher on the concrete patio Dimitri was tethered on.
A veterinarian determined the likely cause of Dimitri’s death was heat stroke.
Previous animal welfare calls at the home dating back to September 2014 stated Dimitri was not being fed or watered for up to three days. Stovall was interviewed at the time and cited for rabies vaccine violations. Multiple neighbors familiar with the home told police the dog never seemed to have water.
Stovall has been charged with Cruelty to Non-Livestock Animals and is being held in the Travis County Jail on a $6,000 bond.