Beloved family dog found dead after Chimney Lakes home broken into

Family says thefts of electronics & jewelry pale in comparison to losing Cowler

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A beloved dog was found dead after a home in the Chimney Lakes subdivision was burglarized, his family said.

The dog's death has left his family, as well as neighbors, both heartbroken and outraged.

After family members left for work and school, Cowler, a 15-year-old partially blind Chihuahua, was inside the home by himself about 8 a.m. Wednesday when the family said burglars shattered a window, broke in through the front door and took off with electronics and jewelry.

"He could barely see anymore, so he couldn't have hurt them," the homeowner, named Carol, said.

Family members, who asked that News4Jax not use their last names for safety reasons, said Cowler likely barked at the burglars, but it wasn't enough to scare them off. The family said the dog was found dead near the dining room table.

"You see a big urine spot from where the dog used to have his bed right here. Then you come over here and find him deceased on the floor," said Chris, the homeowner's son-in-law. "Blood on the ground, bleeding from the nose. Horrible. Horrible."

According to the family, a 61-inch TV, a computer and some jewelry were stolen. But those thefts pale in comparison to losing the family pet.

"Taking your property is enough, but to kill a poor little animal that couldn’t hurt you is pretty sad," Carol said. "He was born in the house, so he's been here his whole life."

Neighbors said there were two vehicles in the driveway -- an orange truck and a dark blue SUV -- around the time of the break-in.

“We have tragedy here. They didn’t just lose property, they lost a pet. We’re just angry," a neighbor named Daren said. "Our HOA (homeowners association) needs to step up. We’ve been asking for the last five years that we’ve lived here. We used to have roaming security. They took it away. No one has any answers why. We’ve lost a lot of good neighbors because of the security issues and now we have a tragedy here."

The burglary comes as neighbors said they've noticed an increase in criminal activity.

"Is it going to stop? Is this just the beginning? Because we are seeing more and more of these issues," said another neighbor named Nancy.

Those issues, according to some neighbors, include suspicious activity at a neighborhood park at night and cars and other homes that have been broken into. Neighbors also said there have been people who don’t live in the neighborhood parking their cars at specific locations and walking the streets when the sun goes down.

"They're not just house shopping. They're crime shopping and we don't want them here at all," Daren said. 

According to a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office crime map, since the official start of the summer season, there have been three batteries, two thefts and six reported burglaries, two of which involved homes, reported within a 1-mile radius of Carol's home.

"The association should be able to get us a roaming security person at night. During the day would be a good idea also, but especially at nighttime," Carol said. 

News4Jax attempted to contact the homeowners association to find out what’s being done to keep this area safe and secure, but was told the person who could answer that question is out of town and not expected to be back until next week.

After the story aired on The 10 O'Clock News, News4Jax learned a dog breeder contacted Carol, offering her a puppy.

Anyone with information about Wednesday's break-in is asked to call Jacksonville police. 

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