Mom Left Girl in Car, Took Puppy Into PetSmart

ORLANDO, Fla. — An Orlando woman took her puppy into a pet store but left her 2-year-old daughter behind in a running car with the air-conditioning on for roughly 40 minutes Wednesday, an Orange County Sheriff’s Office arrest report says.

  • Girl didn’t suffer any injuries
  • DCF opened an investigation
  • Report: Mom had “blunt,” pill

Deputies arrested 37-year-old Jennifer Lopez on charges of child neglect, possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis, and possession of a controlled substance.

The little girl was in “distress” and “sweaty with red eyes from crying” while trying to get fresh air through a black Camaro’s sunroof outside of the PetSmart on Alafaya Trail when officials arrived Wednesday morning.

Lopez posted bond and was released from the Orange County Jail on Thursday. The Florida Department of Children and Families is investigating.

An arrest report released Thursday said Orange County Fire Rescue checked out the distressed child and didn’t see “any injury or signs of abuse.”

Security footage from the PetSmart in Waterford Lakes Town Center shows Lopez entered the store at 10:07 a.m. and left at 10:38 a.m.

A deputy estimated the child was left alone for about 40 minutes. During that period, a security guard for the shopping center spotted the girl and alerted authorities.

When Lopez returned to her Camaro, deputies were waiting.

An officer noticed a “strong odor of cannabis coming from inside the vehicle,” and Lopez agreed to a search of her car. She also agreed to let them search her purse and wallet.

They found one pill of phentermine, an appetite suppressant that requires a prescription. Lopez said she got it from a friend, the report alleges.

Lopez told deputies she needed to drop off her 5-week-old puppy for a veterinary appointment and left her daughter inside the vehicle to watch a movie. She noted she left the vehicle running so the girl could have air conditioning. She said she locked the car. But the girl unlocked the car from the inside to open the sunroof.

Lopez told investigators she thought she was gone for just five minutes.

A deputy told her about the potential dangers of leaving a child inside a running vehicle and the distress that child went through for being left alone for so long.

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