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Carrboro woman charged in service dog's death

Posted July 15, 2013

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— Carrboro police have filed charges against an employee of a service animal training organization who allegedly left a dog in her car for two hours last month. 

Worthy, a 2-year-old golden retriever, died of heatstroke. 

Debra Cunningham, 42, of 155 Viburnum Way in Carrboro, faces one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty. She is due in court Aug. 8.

Police said Cunningham, program director of Eyes, Ears, Nose and Paws, left Worthy in her car with the windows rolled up around noon on June 10 while she worked at the organization's office on Lloyd Street.

When she returned to the car, the dog was panting and unconscious. Veterinarians attempted to revive Worthy, but the animal died the next day.

EENP has declined to comment on any disciplinary action taken against Cunningham but said it was evaluating its "operating procedures, personnel and training standards, taking whatever steps we deem necessary, to ensure our dogs’ safety, health, and wellbeing."


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  • cbean47 Jul 16, 2013

    It is unfortunate that she will only get a slap on the wrist for this but it is true. I hope she will never be allowed to "work" with or around animals again. I would not even want to stand in a grocery store line I knew she was in.

  • Scubagirl Jul 15, 2013

    Thank you for posting that link dogluv3r, very moving. everyone should read it and WRAL should post it.

  • STRAWBERRY LETTER 23 Jul 15, 2013

    I don't understand why she would leave a dog in a car like that? It makes no sense. It would be one thing, if she was going to be gone, literally, a few minutes. But I don't understand how she could forget a dog, that was in the vehicle with her? Nobody, in their right mind, would EVER intentionally leave a dog or cat, or any animal, in a vehicle for 2 hours! Even if the temps outside are a perfect 65 degrees, you still don't leave any animal in a car for two hours! Clearly, she was not thinking.

    I'm wondering what her side of the story is. So sad for the dog, who suffered horribly, I'm sure!

  • dogluv3r Jul 15, 2013

    Here is the link to the board's fulls statement. I cannot imagine how hard this is for them (NOT the woman responsible). These are wonderful people and I hate that this has happened to them.

  • dogluv3r Jul 15, 2013

    Oh that poor, poor, precious animal! This turns my stomach. If ANYONE should know better, she should.

  • tatermommy52 Jul 15, 2013

    Hypocrisy on parade.

  • ntorborg Jul 15, 2013

    Please tell me that this incredibly not-smart person will lose her job!

  • illegalsgohomerevised Jul 15, 2013

    I hope she gets more than just a slap on the wrist as that poor sweet animal sure got more than that. It is not an easy death either. Animals give us unconditional love and such and this is what they get for it. Sad, and she should know better.

  • EnoughWhiningAlready Jul 15, 2013

    This woman works at Eyes, Ears, Nose and Paws and left her dog in the car while she was inside working?!?! WHAT?????? That is beyond belief and it's shame she's only charge with a misdemeanor.

  • whoami Jul 15, 2013

    Glad they brought charges.