Pit bulls were found in the stifling heat of a U-Haul trailer during a traffic stop by the Florida Highway Patrol on Interstate 75 in Sumter County.
Pedro J. Torres Jr., 37, of Tampa, had been southbound on I-75 shortly before noon Wednesday when he was pulled over for speeding and failure to maintain a single lane, according to an arrest report. Torres was traveling with his juvenile son in a sport utility vehicle towing a U-Haul trailer. A K-9 alerted on the vehicle, indicating the likely presence of drugs.
Torres appeared “nervous” and a search turned up cocaine and Oxycodone Hydrocloride pills in plastic bags tucked inside luggage.
The U-Haul trailer was opened and two pit bulls in cages were found. The air inside the trailer was “hot” and there was no ventilation. There were overturned bowls of food and water in the trailer. Sumter County Animal Services was summoned to the scene and took possession of the dogs.
Torres said he had been traveling home to Tampa from New Jersey. He said he was going to rent an RV but decided against it due to the cost. He said he put the dogs in the U-Haul rather than risk “potential damage” to the SUV. He added that he put the cocaine and pills in the luggage to hide them from his son.
Torres was arrested on drug charges as well as a charge of animal endangerment. He was booked at the Sumter County Detention Center on $6,500 bond.