WALDO, Fla. – Six puppies left for days in a crate filled with their own feces and urine were among 12 dogs found Tuesday in "extremely horrific" condition at a home in Waldo, the Alachua County Sheriff's Office announced Thursday.
Animal Services personnel have been working around the clock since the malnourished dogs were found to save the animals, director Ed Williams said. They have also been working to gather evidence that might lead to animal cruelty charges.
“When you have human victims, they can tell you what happened to them," Williams said. "These dogs can't tell us what happened to them.”
Williams said the dogs appear to be American Staffordshire terrier mixes, commonly referred to as pit bulls.
According to Williams and Alachua County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Chris Sims, the dogs were found in "deplorable, emaciated condition" at a Waldo home after Animal Services received complaints from neighbors about barking and "squealing noises" that didn't sound right.
One of the neighbors who called in the tip said he's a dog lover and couldn't believe what he was seeing.
"The one dog was so -- I don't know how someone could have a dog like that," Charles Lewis said. "They were on a chain. They were wrapped up. It was just too much."
Lewis said he heard the dogs screaming and crying the night before he called and said if he heard the noises in the morning he was going to go over to investigate. What he found horrified him: dogs that were nothing but skin and bones.
An Animal Services investigator followed up on the complaint about 11 a.m. Tuesday and found several dogs at the property chained in the yard on a hot day with no food or water. He called in the sheriff's office to help, and a search warrant was obtained about 9 p.m.
Animal Services personnel worked with deputies until 1 a.m. to secure the dogs and prepare them to be taken to Animal Services for treatment.
They said the dogs were emaciated, had skin issues and had suffered chemical burns from being left for days in their own excrement.
It appeared they had been in those conditions for quite some time, Williams said.
Williams said Animal Services is working to gain custody of the animals, because they are currently still considered the property of the individuals who were at the home.
Sims said one of those individuals was taken to jail Tuesday on an unrelated warrant regarding child support.
Williams said they have to be sure the case is tight before bringing animal cruelty charges.
"At this point the job is to determine whether or not there's enough evidence or probable cause to substantiate charges, such as animal cruelty. If that's the case, we will pursue those suspects to the fullest extent," Sims said.
Anyone interested in donating to the Alachua County animal shelter can write a check to the Alachua County Animal Services Donation Fund or drop off donations to:
3400 NE 53rd Ave
Items the shelter needs include:
- Blankets, towels or any soft bedding type materials
- Toys (Hard chew toys for dogs, tennis balls, frisbees, or any cat toys)
- Dry food
- Peanut butter
- Pet Shampoo
- Wet pads
For more information on Alachua County Animal Services, visit the shelter's website.