LEWISTON — An Auburn woman who police said dropped off a dog outside a local animal shelter and it was later struck and killed by a car pleaded not guilty Wednesday to cruelty to animals.

Sarah Vye, 21, appeared in 8th District Court, where she told a judge she would be seeking a court-appointed lawyer to represent her in the misdemeanor charge that is punishable by up to nearly a year in jail.

She remains free on her own recognizance. She is due back in court in August.

Vye was issued a summons in February by a Lewiston animal control officer. The charge stems from the Jan. 25 incident in which Vye abandoned Abby, a yellow Labrador-mix, outside the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society on Strawberry Avenue at night.

That incident was captured by surveillance video outside the shelter, showing a dog being let out of a minivan. The vehicle drove off as the dog ran after it. The minivan didn’t return.

Abby ran into traffic three days later and was found dead on the on-ramp to the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Bridge. She had been struck by a vehicle, officials said.

The bridge is near the animal shelter.

Without identifying herself, a woman called a Portland radio station a day after Abby was found dead. She said she had left Abby at the shelter to protect her three children.

“My kids come first,” she said. She said she was sorry that Abby was struck and killed.

Police were able to identify Vye through surveillance video and tips from the public. Police later contacted Vye and talked to her about the incident.

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