AUBURN — Accused shoplifter Season Bartley said she pleaded with jailers for 12 hours to let her make a phone call to save her dog left in a hot car after she was arrested last weekend.

“Before they even put me in the holding cell, I asked the guard, ‘When am I going to get a phone call?'” Bartley, 37, of Poland, said Friday. “I need to call my brother because my dog is in the car.”

That was at about 10 p.m. Saturday, after Bartley had been jailed on a shoplifting charge. She said it wasn’t until noon the following day that she was allowed to make a phone call.

“It was no less than 12 ours later, and it was no less than a dozen and a half requests for my phone call so that I could contact my brother to get her before she died of heat stroke or something,” Bartley said. “The girls I was housed with in there, I’m sure, were sick of hearing about my little dog who had better be OK.”

The 13-year-old dog, Sarafina, was rescued from a hot car in the Walmart parking lot Sunday afternoon when she was spotted by a passer-by. Police said Bartley never mentioned the dog as she was taken to the county jail.

But Bartley said Friday that as soon as it was clear she and her fiance were going to be arrested, the issue of the dog came up at once.

“My fiance and I had an entire conversation with the Walmart employee that stemmed from my concerns that my dog was in the car,” Bartley said. “It was well-known before I was even handcuffed that I was worried about my dog.”

She really started clamoring, Bartley said, once she got to the jail. Jail officials assured her repeatedly that she’d get her phone call soon, she said, but 12 hours passed. At about 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Bartley said, she became more frantic about her dog.

“One of the guards actually made the comment to me, ‘Oh, it’s pretty cool outside this morning. She’ll be fine,'” Bartley said. “At that point I told them, ‘No. This is wrong. She is 6 pounds and 13 years old.'”

Bartley was given phone access at about noon Sunday, she said, and called on her brother to pick up Sarafina in the Walmart parking lot.

“He got there as fast as he could,” Bartley said. “She had already been taken by the (Auburn Police Department).”

The dog was taken to the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society, and news of its plight was reported in local media. Bartley said she had been getting hate mail since the story spread.

“I’m getting nasty messages from total strangers telling me what a piece of s— I am,” she said. “I do wildlife rehabilitation. My whole life is about animals. I’m not going to purposely leave a pet in a sweltering hot car. I did not rescue her two years ago and bring her all the way across the country to leave her in that situation.”

Androscoggin County Sheriff Eric Samson on Friday said he planned to investigate the matter. He said he doubted that his jailers would have dismissed Bartley’s concerns in the way she described.

“I’m pretty confident if she told an officer of the issue, something would’ve been done,” Samson said. “If she would’ve told them about the dog, most would have at least alerted the Auburn officer to go back and check, but I can’t say for sure what happened in this instance, what was said or what wasn’t.”

Samson said he expects his officers would have allowed Bartley an emergency call had they been made aware of the dog’s situation.

According to jail policy, inmates are allowed to make phone calls once the booking process is complete. But Bartley said she ended up in a holding cell for hours and was told by a jailer that it was an especially busy night at the lockup.

“Sarafina was my only concern the whole time I was in there,” said Bartley, who got the dog two years ago as a rescue when the animal’s previous owner died. “Her whole world had been completely turned upside down. She was in total turmoil when I met her.”

The dog, Bartley said, is almost completely blind and suffers from arthritis in the spine and possibly dementia.

Bartley was released from the jail at about 5 p.m. Monday. She went to the Auburn Police Station and was given the number for the shelter, which by then had closed for the day.

Later, when she went back for the dog, there were no complications in having Sarafina returned to her.

“I got her back because it wasn’t my fault that this happened,” Bartley said. “It broke my heart. I never put her in any bad situations. I never put her in a spot where she could be hurt or scared.”

She said that when she got Sarafina back, the dog was obviously exhausted. On top of the ordeal in the Walmart parking lot, the animal had just endured a cross-country drive from Oregon.

“When she heard my voice at the Humane Society, she was pretty much doing somersaults out of the lady’s arms trying to get to me,” Bartley said. “She was super excited to see me. She climbed in my lap in the car and she was just out like a light. She had been stressed out all weekend. She finally had momma and she was comfortable.”

Season Bartley with her 13-year-old Maltese-Chihuahua, Sarafina. (Season Bartley photo)

Sarafina, a 13-year-old dog rescued from a hot car Sunday in the Walmart parking lot in Auburn, is seen here in better times. (Season Bartley photo)

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: