Resident: Jailed neighbor abandoned animals

Woman says Joseph Carlton has 4 dogs, 2 cats

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Relentless barking and howling from a Holiday Hill neighborhood prompted neighbors to call Animal Care and Control after they said they hadn't seen the homeowner in weeks.

Julie Whitcomb said her neighbor Joseph Carlton on has six animals that haven't been cared for in nearly two weeks. 

According to Whitcomb, Carlton hasn't been at his home on Waikiki Road to feed his two cats and four dogs, two of whom don't live inside and are chained up in the backyard.

Whitcomb said she started giving the animals food and water when she realized how much time had passed since she'd seen her neighbor. The woman told Channel 4 she was surprised by how angry and withdrawn the animals had become.

"We tried to go in the backyard and they lunged at us, bearing their teeth, barking at us and they've never treated us like that before," said Whitcomb. "They usually come to the fence happy to see us, wagging their tail,  letting us pet them, so this was very unexpected behavior and very concerning."

Channel 4 found out Carlton has been in jail on two different fraud charges. According to his inmate report, he was booked for the crimes on January 30th. Channel 4 also learned Carlton is a registered sex offender. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website, Carlton committed lewd acts on a child under the age of 16 back in 1996.

Cameras were rolling when Animal Control officers pulled up to the Waikiki Road home. After inspecting the animals and interviewing neighbors, the animal control officer posted a warning notice.

The city issued a statement to explain why the Animal Control officers didn't remove the animals from the home Tuesday.

"ACPS needs to verify if the animals are actually abandoned," said Monica Landeros with the city. "In some cases, the animal is actually being cared for by another person and the concerned resident may not notice that person coming and going from the property. In some cases, neighbors are feeding animals, which means they are not abandoned. ACPS would also need to monitor the animal from day to day to verify the situation. There is a legal process to taking truly abandoned animals; ACPS cannot take an animal unless it is in imminent danger. ACPS would need to secure a warrant which would require going in front of a judge to prove the case. ACPS will monitor and go back tomorrow, however, there is no schedule or warrant to pick these animals up. The animals are not considered abandoned because they have food, water and shelter. There are no grounds at this point to take the animals."

Whitcomb said she found the situation frustrating, but would continue to do what she can for the animals.

"We want the dogs to be taken care of. We want them to be fed and watered and they're health to be looked after. We just don't like to see animals suffer," said Whitcomb.

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