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Clay County dog owner charged with animal abandonment

Affidavit: Man, 29, told detective he abandoned his four dogs

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. – A 29-year-old Orange Park man turned himself in on a warrant charging him with animal abandonment after authorities said he left his four dogs at a Middleburg home that he moved from.

The man, who News4Jax has chosen not to name since he’s facing a misdemeanor charge, was recently released from the Clay County jail after posting $1,500 bond.

According to the affidavit for arrest warrant, in November, a detective with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and an animal control officer responded to the Middleburg home where the man once lived with the four dogs that were left abandoned. Several neighbors reported that the man moved from the home on Nov. 14 and left behind the dogs to roam the neighborhood for food and water for weeks, the affidavit shows.

The affidavit states that upon entering the man’s previous home in Middleburg, the detective found animal feces, rat feces and urine. According to the affidavit, the inside walls of the home were damaged from the dogs clawing and chewing, and the dogs clawed and chewed a large hole that led to the outside of the home.

According to the detective, the inside walls of the home were damaged from the dogs clawing and chewing, and the dogs clawed and chewed a large hole that led to the outside of the home. (WJXT)

According to the affidavit, a female dog had chronic ear infections that appeared to have been left untreated, and two of the other dogs were left malnourished.

The affidavit states the man admitted to the detective that he was the sole owner of the four dogs and intentionally abandoned the dogs, thinking neighbors would call animal control so the animals could be rescued and taken care of. The affidavit also says the man told the investigator that he left dog food in the yard but knew it would not be enough to sustain them for a long period of time. He also told the detective he knew the female dog had ear infections but never attempted to get the dog medical help, the affidavit says.

“If you have an animal, you have to take care of it,” a neighbor said.

The charge against the man is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and/or a short stint in jail.

Help for pet owners

The Pet Safety Net program, which is offered by the Jacksonville Humane Society, can help struggling pet owners.

“We see people every day who want to do right by their animals,” said Lindsay Layendecker, assistant development director of JHS.

Layendecker said the program provides resources to pet owners so they do not have to abandon their animals because of money or other circumstances.

“We provide everything from pet food, pet supplies, access to low cost or free veterinary care, rehoming support, behavioral health -- just anything that someone needs to keep their pets at home or to find them a new loving and safe home,” Layendecker explained.

The program has been in existence for ten years, but Layendecker said JHS has seen an increase in people asking for help since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“More people are reaching out and saying, ‘I lost my job,’ ‘I suddenly had to move,’ or ‘I have people moving in with me,’” Layendecker said.

Layendecker said the greatest need by pet owners seeking help is pet health care, which is also the most costly. That’s why donations are so critical. The money that funds the program comes from donations and pet adoptions.

Layendecker said that although JHS is in Duval County, JHS still offers this help to pet owners living in surrounding counties.

For more information, visit https://www.jaxhumane.org/services-and-resources/petsafetynet/. You can also contact JHS’s Pet Help Center team by calling 904-493-4584 (you’re asked to leave a message) or emailing PetSafetyNet@jaxhumane.org.

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