JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A petition obtained Wednesday by News4JAX shows the city has asked a court for the permanent removal and custody of 22 animals that were found a month ago at a home on Jacksonville’s Northside.
Court records show the man arrested, Terry Thomas, is facing charges of cruelty to animals and confinement of animals without sufficient food, water or exercise.
In the petition, the city states animals were crammed into cages, living in urine and feces — many without access to food or water.
Veterinarians who examined the dogs, the petition shows, reported they did not receive medical care for conditions from infections to worms. A 5-year-old dog had to be put down because its health was so bad.
We went through the petition with Jim Crosby. He’s an animal cruelty expert who used to work for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
“The court has the ability to say, ‘You’re a bad animal owner. We’re going to save these animals from any further neglect or abuse and remove them from ownership,’” Crosby explained.
The petition states that when investigators searched the home in November, they found items including a treadmill, bite sticks and heavy chains.
Crosby says he’s seen these items in dog fighting cases he’s investigated.
“The heavy chains — they’re not only habitual within some groups of animal keepers, but they’re used by those training for dog fighting because they believe the dogs carrying this excessive weight around builds up their neck and their shoulder muscles,” Crosby said.
The city is also trying to prevent Thomas from owning animals in the future, the petition shows.
The petition shows that in 2018, nine dogs were removed from his home because of neglect. Three years later, Thomas was arrested after police said he kept animals without sufficient food or water.
Crosby says that if a judge grants what the city is asking, this will also give workers the chance to adopt out the animals while the criminal investigation is still ongoing.