JFRD captain says owner is abusing his dogs

Dogs were found while responding to medical call

By Tarik Minor - Anchor, I-TEAM reporter , News4Jax.com Staff

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A captain with Jacksonville Fire-Rescue is concerned about what she says is animal cruelty at a Westside man's home.

At Fire Station 31, crews respond to dozens of calls a day, but fires and medical call outs aren't the only emergencies they encounter.

While responding to a medical call, Capt. Tammi Reyes says she noticed four pit bulls that she said were malnourished in one man's yard.

"I know what a malnourished, underfed dog looks like," said Reyes.

Reyes said three of the emaciated pit bulls caught her attention, and the fourth one she said appeared to be near death.

"It was so crippled it could not even walk," said Reyes. "It had one of those big chains around its neck."

On Wednesday, that fourth dog wasn't there. The homeowner was also not at home and didn't respond to phone calls.

Investigators with animal control said they don't know what happened to the dog that appeared to be in the worst shape.

Reyes said she called animal control Sunday, but was told by a city worker they couldn't authorize overtime hours for an investigator that day. She's hoping the delay didn't cost the missing dog its life.

"If we feel the animal is in imminent danger of dying, we can take it," said Nikki Harris with Animal Control and Protective Services. "If the animal is in poor health, than we cannot."

Harris said she can't talk about cases that are active and under investigation, but she did say the dogs' owner has been given specific instructions on nursing the dogs back to health. If he doesn't, he could lose custody.

"Typically we follow back up with the things we need to be completed, some officers ask them to fax the records from veterinarians," said Harris.

Investigators have given the dogs' owner until Monday to take the dogs to a veterinarian.

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