Published: Oct 15, 2013 12:15 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- A Lee County teacher, accused of leaving his puppy in the hot trunk of his car, is pleading not guilty to animal cruelty charges.

Students at Gateway Charter School in Fort Myers turned in 28-year-old Matthew Emans.

Emans claims he thought it was OK to leave the dog there for a short time.

He's due back in court next month for a probation violation, stemming from a prior DUI arrest.