Jailed man returns to abandoned pets

Concerned neighbors said 36-year-old had left 4 dogs, 2 cats without food, water

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A jailed man neighbors believed had abandoned four dogs and two cats at his Southside home returned to the house Wednesday.

Joseph Carlton, 36, a registered sex offender, said he bailed out of jail Wednesday morning after being arrested Jan. 30 on identity theft charges.

Concerned neighbors had contacted Channel 4 Tuesday night about the animals they believed were left without any food or water. They also called Animal Control officers in after they said they hadn't seen anyone come by the home in more than a week.

The officers only issued a warning, leaving frustrated neighbors left to wonder why the pets weren't removed.

Denise Deisler, of the Jacksonville Humane Society, says Florida law states Animal Control officers have to prove the animals were in imminent danger without food, water and shelter before securing a warrant and taking the animals.

"The laws are archaic. They haven't been revisited for quite some time," Deisler said. "And in the eyes of Florida state law, a dog or a cat is viewed as property. They don't treat them as living beings that have feelings that may be suffering."

City officials released a statement, saying, "Animal Care and Protective Services was able to meet with the owner on the property today. The ACPS officer was able to look at the condition of every animal and was able to determine that each animal is in good health."

"It's a privilege to have a pet, and you need to treat it like that," said Tim Holloway, of Southside Animal Clinic.

Holloway believes Carlton genuinely cares for his animals, but said it was clear he was overwhelmed. Holloway offers this advice to pet owners who find themselves in a similar situation:

"Finding someone to take your pets, obviously that's a good choice as well if you can't take care of them like they should be," he said. "If you're to the point where you think you need to surrender your pet, you know you're doing the right thing."

Copyright 2013 by News4Jax.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.