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Judge sentences pet owners for leaving dogs in back of hot U-Haul in Fredericksburg

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BY KEITH EPPS

Two local pet owners have been ordered to have no companion animals for three years as punishment for leaving two dogs in the back of a U–Haul truck last summer. The overheated animals had to to be euthanized.

Rhinna Marie Ring, 20, of Fredericksburg was convicted in Stafford County General District Court of two counts of animal cruelty and two counts of keeping animals in an unattended vehicle.

Ring was ordered by Judge Bruce Strickland to serve four days in jail and pay veterinarian bills of more than $2,000 following her two-hour trial.

Harlie Syrus, 22, of Stafford pleaded guilty to two animal cruelty charges and received a suspended sentence. She will have to pay about $400 in vet bills.

Ring, who was represented by attorney Jim Ilijevich, appealed her convictions to Circuit Court, meaning her punishment will not be in effect at least until the case is resolved in the higher court or the appeal is withdrawn.

County prosecutor Kristin Bird said Ring and Syrus took their dogs to the Rappahannock River off Riverside Drive in Fredericksburg on July 28. They left two larger dogs in a truck for about 20 minutes with no ventilation with the temperature outside at more than 80 degrees while they took the smaller dogs to the river.

Someone heard the dogs making noises and called police.

Stafford Deputy Karl Warnick later spotted the truck heading north on Warrenton Road and caught up with it in the parking lot of a Super 8 motel.

The women told police they left the big dogs in the truck because they didn’t have leashes for them.

The larger dogs were in obvious distress, according to the evidence, and one of them was euthanized that day. The other was put down a couple of days later.

The two smaller dogs were fine, according to the evidence.

Bird said that by all accounts, both women love their animals and have generally taken good care of them.

“But on that particular day, they made a horrible mistake,” Bird said.

It was not clear what will become of the two surviving smaller dogs.

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