Dog in hot car leads to arrest of man wanted by US Marshals

Published 8:43 am Thursday, June 25, 2015

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Michael Tester

Michael Tester

A call to 911 from a concerned passerby about a dog locked in a hot car led police to a local man wanted by the United States Marshals Service.
Officers of the Elizabethton Police Department arrested Michael Dale Tester, 36, 458 Timberidge Road, Bluff City, and charged him with cruelty to animals. The U.S. Marshals Service placed a detainer warrant on Tester so that he can be held in the Carter County Detention Center until marshals can take custody of him.
On Tuesday, EPD officers responded to the parking lot located between the Sycamore Shoals Hospital emergency room and a neighboring doctor’s office after a woman called 911 saying a dog was in distress in a black Dodge van.
“I found the vehicle with the dog inside panting heavily. The dog had food visible, but I could not see water,” EPD Capt. Jason Shaw said. “The dog had a cone shaped collar on its neck from recent care and had a cast or bandage on one of its front paws.”
The temperature outside at the time was 85 degrees, Shaw said.
Officers checked the van’s license plate number and learned the van was registered to Joeann or Dale Tester of Bluff City. Shaw went in to the doctor’s office to search for one of the vehicle’s owners while EPD Cpl. James Deese went into the hospital emergency room to do the same.
While in the doctor’s office, Shaw spoke with the woman who called 911 and she told him she waited 15 minutes after finding the dog for the owner to return before she called for police.
“With no contact with any owner, went back to the van to check on the dog. The dog appeared to be in distress,” Shaw said. “I contacted animal control and reached into the vehicle as the owner approached.”
While speaking with the owner, later identified as Michael Dale Tester, the man said he had been inside the hospital visiting a family member for about 30 minutes.
Tester then took the dog out of the van and took it over to a shady area.
“I gave (Tester) two bottles of water that he gave the dog,” Shaw said. “The dog immediately drank the water and laid on the grass still panting heavily.”
Shaw arrested Tester and charged him with cruelty to animals “due to the fact the dog was left in the hot van for an unreasonable amount of time.”
While speaking with Tester, Shaw ran a routine warrant check on the man and learned Tester was wanted by the U.S. Marshals Service for an outstanding warrant. No information was available as to what charges the Marshals Service had on Tester.
Tester appeared in Carter County General Sessions Court on Wednesday, where he entered a guilty plea to a charge of attempted cruelty to animals. He was ordered to pay a $25 fine and court costs and was sentenced to five months and 29 days probation.
Tester was released from custody on the local charge but is being held in the Carter County Detention Center until he can be picked up by the U.S. Marshals Service.

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