Lewiston police have filed a criminal complaint against a woman accused of abandoning a dog outside a local animal shelter in January. The dog was later struck by a car and killed.

The complaint, filed in Androscoggin District Court, charges Sarah Vye, 21, of Mexico with a Class D misdemeanor of cruelty to animals, alleging that she abandoned the dog on or about Jan. 25. The charge carries a potential penalty of 364 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.

The abandonment was recorded by a security camera outside the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society. The video, which was posted on the humane society’s website, showed the driver of a minivan releasing a dog into the parking lot without a leash or tether and driving away as the dog chases the car. The video got more than a million views and sparked widespread criticism.

The dog was struck by a car on Jan. 28, three days after it was abandoned.

Reached Thursday outside her father’s home in Auburn, Vye said she had not yet decided how she would plead to the charge when she appears in court April 6, and is discussing her options with an attorney.

She said the dog, named Abby, had belonged to her ex-boyfriend’s ex-wife, and that the night she left it outside the humane society, Abby had nipped at Vye’s 2-month-old baby.

“My intentions weren’t to just drop her off, but I made a stupid mistake,” Vye said, noting she does not have any other pets, but grew up with animals in her household.

Days after she left the dog at the humane society, Vye called in to a Portland radio station to explain her actions, saying she had tried to return the dog, but its original owner refused to take it back..

Vye, whom the radio station did not identify at the time, defended her actions during the interview.

“I love animals to death,” she told the radio hosts, but “I love my kids more.”

Vye said during the interview that she got the dog in August from her ex-boyfriend’s ex-wife. The dog, which the shelter said was a Labrador retriever-husky mix with blond fur, was aggressive from the start, she said.

Vye said she later asked the original owner if she could take the dog to a shelter or have it euthanized, but the owner said no. It’s not clear in the interview why she felt she needed the former owner’s permission.

Vye said she contacted Auburn police about taking the dog to the shelter, but was told she couldn’t because she wasn’t its owner.

Auburn police, however, disputed this. An officer responded to a reported dog bite, but was told the child who was reportedly bitten wasn’t present, and that the bite had occurred two days earlier. Police determined there was no reason to quarantine the dog to check for rabies, nor did they have a legal reason to take the dog.

The humane society posted updates on its Facebook page for a couple of days after the dog was abandoned, saying that it was searching for the dog.

Three days after the video was posted, the humane society posted again, saying a staffer had found the dog dead near the off-ramp to the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Bridge, where it apparently had been struck by a car.


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