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Community raises alarm about neglect of dogs

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

A number of Gainesville residents are trying to draw attention to the perceived abuse of a local woman’s dogs, leading to a lengthy thread in the Gainesville Word of Mouth Facebook group.

Many people commented that they had observed the woman, Loren Cava of the 700 block of NW 24th Ave, dragging her dogs behind her bike, even when the dogs stumble and are injured, and that this behavior has been going on for many years.

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Cava, who is 64, paid 2 citations in 2018 for failure to treat a pet humanely. The March 1 citation said she was observed dragging her dog Daisy, “which resulted in injury to both rear paws.” The May 7 citation referred to a sworn citation stating that Daisy’s legs were “collapsing and dragging under her.” Both were listed as first offenses. Cava paid $200 fines plus assorted fees for both citations.

In a statement to the media last week, Alachua County Animal Services Director Ed Williams wrote, “The owner of the dogs has been issued an order to provide care by Alachua County Animal Services due to the physical conditions of her dogs. So far she is complying, the dogs are under the care of a local veterinarian, and their conditions are improving. With regard to the additional allegations of physical abuse in this calendar year, we have directed first party witnesses to complete sworn affidavits that can be found here with instructions on our department’s website.”

An Incident Report from the Gainesville Police Department (GPD) on April 14, 2021, has now come to light, stating that a GPD officer was dispatched to Cava’s residence because Cava said “neighbors have been taking pictures of her dogs while she is walking them. She advised that she and her dogs feel crowded by this and that it makes her dogs not want to walk.”

The officer wrote, “I observed her two dogs… appeared to be in distress. Both dogs are painfully skinny, with ribs, hipbones, leg bones, and vertebrae plainly visible. Their coats are dull and the tan dog has multiple patchy areas in its coat… Both dogs seemed exhausted, panting harshly with their heads drooping. The tan dog repeatedly laid down on the asphalt and the brindle/brown dog’s legs were shaking.”

The officer said she advised Cava that GPD “has received numerous calls over the last weeks about her treatment of her dogs. Cava informed me that ACAS [Alachua County Animal Services] has been ‘harassing’ her about this.”

The officer wrote that she advised Cava to take the dogs inside to get some water and rest. She reluctantly agreed, but “Approx. two minutes later, I observed Cava taking both dogs out on another walk. She was dragging the dogs behind her and repeatedly yanking on their leashes. The dogs’ tails were drooping, their feet were stumbling, and their heads were down.” He again requested that Cava take the dogs inside.

The officer wrote that she then called ACAS. ACAS dispatch told her there is already an open case on Cava. The officer again requested to meet with an ACAS officer. According to the report, she then received a call from an ACAS officer, who “advised me that ACAS is aware of Cava, but her dogs are under the care of a vet and there is not much they can do… He commented that this is the investigator’s job and that he cannot step on their investigation. He pointed out that as an officer, I would not try to do a detective’s job and that he cannot do an investigator’s job.”

The GPD officer again insisted that ACAS meet her at Cava’s house. The ACAS officer arrived and offered to let the GPD officer fill out a sworn statement “and said they could possibly give her a citation, or I could file charges on her.” The GPD officer said she asked if ACAS would seize the dogs that day if charges for animal cruelty were filed, and the ACAS officer said no. The ACAS officer also said he was uncomfortable with issuing her a citation.

Both the GPD and ACAS officers made contact with Cava, “who… was tearful and yelling about her neighbors harassing her.” The ACAS officer suggested that Cava take the dogs on fewer walks or that she walk them one at a time so she does not have to worry about tugging on their leashes if they go in opposite directions. “Cava refused both of these suggestions stating that they ‘wouldn’t work.’ She disclosed she walked the dogs at least four times today.”

The ACAS officer told the GPD officer that ACAS has offered Cava harnesses as alternatives to collars and also more food for the dogs. Cava has refused both of these.

A follow-up report the next day stated that the GPD officer again contacted ACAS and spoke with the Field Ops Supervisor, who said ACAS is continuing to investigate Cava. There had already been another citizen complaint about how Cava treated her dogs while walking them, and Cava had again called GPD about neighbors photographing her dogs again.

In response to a request for comment on this Incident Report, ACAS Director Williams replied, “This is still an open investigation, so no further comment at this time.”

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