Georgia Deputy’s Dogs Died of Heatstroke: PETA Calls For Cruelty Charges

For Immediate Release:
October 13, 2022

Lauren Kent 202-483-7382

Rockdale County, Ga. – PETA has sent an urgent letter to Rockdale County District Attorney Alisha Johnson calling on her to file cruelty-to-animals charges against Deputy Eric Tolbert of the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO), who has admitted to confining three American bullies—a breathing-impaired breed (BIB)—to a shed while temperatures reached 95 degrees with a heat index of more than 100 degrees, causing their lingering deaths.

BIBs are twice as likely to suffer from heatstroke as other breeds, and according to RCSO’s investigation, Tolbert admitted to knowing that “American bullies, they can’t pant normally, to cool off like normal dogs” and that “they don’t do well out in the heat”—yet he kept Luke Cage, Storm, and LaLa in crates in a shed without adequate ventilation or climate control. The first dog died on June 13, yet he apparently left the other two crated in the shed while he went to work the next day, and they died, too. Investigators also found two other dogs—including Tolbert’s assigned county-owned K-9, Aegis—unattended and confined to squalid, feces-littered pens outdoors in nearly 100-degree weather and determined that Aegis hadn’t received required veterinary care since 2019. RCSO removed him, demoted Tolbert from his position as a K-9 handler, and recommended cruelty-to-animals charges—but a Rockdale County Superior Court judge reportedly refused to review the evidence, apparently because the department investigated one of its own deputies.

“These dogs depended on Tolbert for protection, but he left them to suffer and die in a sweltering shed,” says PETA Senior Vice President of Cruelty Investigations Daphna Nachminovitch. “Sheriff’s deputies are not above the law, and PETA is calling on District Attorney Johnson to ensure that Deputy Tolbert is held accountable for these dogs’ suffering and painful deaths as any other citizen would be.”

Additional information about heatstroke in dogs is available here. PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind