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Friday, Sep 22, 2017
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Court battle looming over Ikea dog Mr. Snuggles

Mr. Snuggles is heading to court. The mixed breed puppy was found in a hot car at Ikea during the Swedish furniture store's much-hyped grand opening May 6. Now, Hillsborough County Animal Services is petitioning for ownership of him. If successful, Animal Services will put the dog up for adoption. A hearing has been set for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. The dog's owner, Amy Chantarak, 19, has been charged with animal cruelty, the second time in 1 1/2 years she's been charged with the offense.
In the latest incident, Animal Services says the pup was left in a black Mazda with the windows cracked while Chantarak went shopping. Temperatures outside hovered at 90 degrees, so the car's interior would have risen to 120 degrees, the agency said. An officer tipped off by a passer-by spotted the dog panting heavily and used a baton to unlock the door and retrieve him. Animal Services operations manager Dennis McCullough said last month that the dog was doing great. News stories about the dog's plight brought scores of adoption requests to Animal Services, but the agency can't make the dog available until the court's rule. Chantarak was taken to jail, where corrections officers found an active warrant from Pinellas County on a similar charge. Animal Services spokeswoman Marti Ryan has said that Chantarak, in December 2007, went to her boyfriend's relatives' home and left her Chihuahua in her car overnight because the people there had allergies. She was cited but never showed up for court, Ryan said.

Reporter Josh Poltilove can be reached at (813) 259-7691.

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