GRAND ISLAND, Neb. -- A woman from Florida was arrested after she was suspected of drowning a 2-week-old puppy in a Nebraska airport bathroom after being told the dog could not board the plane with her.
Cynthia Anderson, 56, is charged with animal neglect resulting in death. If convicted, she faces up to five years in prison.
In a court appearance Monday, she told a judge she has medical conditions, including osteoporosis, broken bones, depression and anxiety. She also said she has brain damage.
"We just hope that our, my sister-in-law gets the help that she needs," said Gary Bodenheimer, Anderson's brother-in-law. "So upset that this has happened to that little puppy. It's hard for us to understand."
Police say Anderson tried to board a flight at the Central Nebraska Regional Airport on Thursday with two crated dogs and three newborn puppies in her carry-on bag. When she was denied, she returned Friday.
But authorities say she was denied again after trying to carry on a puppy. That's when Grand Island Police say Anderson went into a bathroom, drowned the puppy in a toilet and tried to flush the body.
"It's disheartening because we were only a mile away," Central Nebraska Humane Society Executive Director Laurie Dethloff said.
Dethloff credits passengers for alerting airport staff.
"Their priority was for the well-being of an animal and that's a powerful statement," she said. "There's a lot of things that go on that we don't have enough eyes or ears to so when we've had the public involved we've had good results with prosecution."
The two dogs the humane society says were properly crated for a flight are being taken care of at the shelter. The puppy's body is also at the shelter and is considered evidence.
"The two puppies are safe. The two puppies are being well taken care of," Bodenheimer said.
Dethloff says if the puppies would have made it past security and been stowed below the plane, the results would likely have been even worse.
"It's pretty obvious that you have to keep them within the cabin for air pressure and heat," Dethloff said. "You don't want to lose your pet just by trying to save some money."
A preliminary hearing has been set for Feb. 10.