FORT MYERS, Fla. - Two women have been charged with crimes including animal cruelty after one dog died from being chained up outside with no water. A second dog was near death in the same backyard when Lee County Animal Services arrived on the scene.
Wednesday Lee County Domestic Animal Services responded to a call on Habersan Avenue in Lehigh Acres regarding two dogs tied out without water.
"These two dogs were tethered out on a heavy chain," Lee County Animal Services spokesperson Ria Brown said. "The dog that was dead, (its) chain was tangled up."
When officers arrived one of the Bull Mastiffs was dead and the other was near death.
"The dog house, if you wanna call it that, was nothing but a wooden hot box and probably wouldn't have helped it anyway," Brown said.
The surviving dogs temperature was 112 degrees. The dead dog registered 130 degrees. As no one was home at the time, both dogs were removed from the property and brought to Animal Services’ clinic. The surviving dog was treated for heat exhaustion.
The caretaker for the last month, Valencia Ward, was charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty under Florida State Statute punishable by a $5,000 fine and up to one year in jail for the deceased canine. She has a long criminal record.
Ward was also charged with animal cruelty under Lee County Ordinance for the surviving dog which suffered from heat exhaustion.
The dog was released back to the owner, Stacey Johnson. She was charged with failure to license and vaccinate her dog. She also has a long criminal record. Animals services says legally they had to give the dog back to the owner, because the owner didn't commit the cruelty crime.
Colleen Hogan, reporter