CLEARWATER, Fla. — A hospital worker was arrested Monday night after his dog, which police said had been left inside his vehicle as the man worked, was found dead inside hours later.
- Jeffrey Hazen charged with felony animal cruelty
- Police: Hazen left dog, cat in car while he worked
- Authorities haven't said which hospital employed him
Jeffrey Hazen, 38, is accused of leaving his dog and cat inside his vehicle Monday afternoon.
According to an arrest report, Hazen works at Morton Plant Hospital. A spokesperson for the hospital declined to say what his position at the hospital was.
According to investigators, Hazen drove to Georgia last Friday to pick up the animals, which he shared with his late husband. He drove from Georgia straight to work on Monday with the animals in the car.
He told investigators he had recently moved to the area and had been living out of his vehicle. Authorities did find his vehicle full of his personal belongings.
Hazen told officers he had left his car running and air conditioning on and locked the doors when he began his shift Monday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. Temperatures that day reached the upper 70s with high humidity.
According to the arrest report, when Hazen went to check on the animals around 7:30 p.m., he found his car was shut off and his 2-year-old dog named Biscuit was dead inside.
Authorities say Hazen went back to work and did not report the dog's death to police or animal control. He told investigators he panicked and worried he'd get in trouble with work since he showed up late that day.
It was a hospital security worker who called police, the report stated.
Pinellas County Animal Control workers were also called to collect the cat, named Booker, which was found severely dehydrated. Booker was treated and moved out of animal services' hospital area into regular housing, according to agency director Doug Brightwell.
"It's saddening and it's horrifying that such a tragic thing happens to an animal that has no control over what's going on with it, how it's housed, and the circumstances that it's in," Brightwell told us.
Brightwell added that Booker is microchipped, but Hazen is not the individual connected to the cat by the chip. If the agency cannot locate the cat's owner, it may be adopted locally.
Hazen was booked into the Pinellas County jail on a felony animal cruelty charge.
Jeffrey Hazen (Photo Courtesy of the Clearwater Police Department)