LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Lee County Sheriff’s Offices said their Animal Cruelty Task Force has investigated thousands of cases this year alone.
There have been nine felony arrests associated with these cases – and, after speaking with Sheriff Carmine Marceno and the Gulf Coast Humane Society, we learned that when deputies walk into these cases, they also see drug use. or worse an abuse.
Gary Willoughby, executive director of the Gulf Coast Humane Society, said he’s seen animals of all kinds come to the Gulf Coast Humane Society for adoption.
“Last week we picked up 17 dogs and cats from Lee County Pet Services,” Willoughby said. “We don’t know much about the context.”
Willoughby said that in his experience, when authorities investigate an animal cruelty case, it usually doesn’t stop at animal abuse.
“I’ve seen children being neglected, abused,” Willoughby said. “I’ve seen domestic violence issues – certainly seen a lot of other crimes being committed.”
Sheriff Carmine Marceno said that was just part of what his Animal Cruelty Task Force found.
“We can be called to a home for alleged neglect or abuse of an animal and we find drugs, someone has a warrant, we’ve had cases where domestic violence has gone wrong between two parties and in the process of investigating this domestic, finding us an abused or neglected animal Sheriff Marcelo said, “There are so many different things that branch out with the animal complaint.”
These types of stories are why the Sheriff’s Office and the Gulf Coast Humane Society say making the call is so important.
“There may be other crimes being committed there that we will never know about unless good citizens contact us and tell us about it,” Willoughby said. “I’ve been to a variety of places and no two are the same.”
Sheriff Marceno said nothing will stop his deputies from going to investigate when they get a call.
“Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, we get that call, we go,” Sheriff Marceno said.
If for some reason you think you can’t or shouldn’t call the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, you can remain anonymous by calling Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at 1-800-784-8477.