ST. AUGUSTINE, FL – April 8, 2020 - According to a criminal news report posted on STAugustine.com, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man from St. Augustine, Florida for allegedly locking his dog in his sports utility vehicle and leaving the dog to perish inside the vehicle.
The 41-year-old man was arrested and charged with aggravated animal cruelty and unlawful confinement or abandonment of an animal and aggravated animal cruelty. The 41-year-old suspect is facing a five-year jail sentence and a third-degree felony on his criminal record if he is convicted of the charges. The suspect was released from police custody after posting $3,000 in bail according to the arrest report and news article.
The police arrest record stated that the suspect's girlfriend stated to law enforcement that the suspect and she had an argument. The suspect left her and then checked into a hotel close to the World Golf Village. The suspect's girlfriend also stated that she arrived at the hotel to check on her boyfriend and discovered their dog locked inside the suspect's Volvo SUV at the hotel’s parking lot. The St. Johns County Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to the scene, and they discovered that dog's body inside the suspect's SUV. The dog was found on the front passenger's side floorboard, and the dog was beginning to decompose. The St. Johns County Sheriff's deputies noted that all of the SUV windows were up and there wasn't any water or food left for the dog, according to the police report and the news article.
The staff at the hotel, where the suspect was staying, told the St. Johns County Sheriff's deputies that the suspect would not leave the hotel room and he had overstayed his reservation. The hotel staff also stated that the man was unresponsive when they attempted to make contact by calling his room or when they knocked on the suspect's hotel room door.
The St. Johns County Sheriff’s deputies were able to contact the suspect and he stated that he left the dog in his SUV but that he had checked on the dog within the past couple of hours. When the suspect opened the SUV door for the sheriff’s deputies, the dog was already dead. An animal control officer for St. Johns County was dispatched to the scene and stated the dog had passed away 24 hours or more hours, according to the police report.
Florida Aggravated Animal Cruelty Charges
According to Florida Statute § 828.12, Aggravated Animal Cruelty is a serious crime in the State of Florida. Animal cruelty is the term used to describe the act of purposeful and willfully causing an animal's death or to inflict repeated and excessive pain and suffering to an animal. Aggravated Animal Cruelty is a third-degree felony in the State of Florida.
If found guilty of Aggravated Animal Cruelty, the defendant faces penalties such as up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the defendant is found to have tormented or tortured an animal with the intention of injuring, mutilating, or killing the animal, the punishments may also include an additional fine of at least $2,500, plus mandatory anger management treatment program or psychological counseling.