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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.

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.”

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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.”

  • ACAS should be ashamed of themselves!! With the amount of complaints they have against this woman those dogs should’ve been removed from her along time ago. ACAS is really dropping the ball this one!!

  • We arrived in Gainesville 22 years ago and met Lauren Cave walking her dogs. At the time she seemed competent and the dogs she was walked seemed healthy. After talking to her I was persuaded that she was taking care of animals that nobody else wanted.

    Rather than humiliate her with hateful accusations, a kinder solution would be for “Nextdoor” neighbors to organize support for what could be a cognitive decline along with economic hardship for her ability to provide food for dogs.

    • All the neighbors as well as others have offfered to help her and also buy dog food. She will not accept help.
      The bottom line is what does that have to do with the ongoing abuse and neglect of these poor dogs. Why do you think it’s ok??
      Rachel

    • Didn’t you read in report they’ve offered a harness and food for her dogs an asked for her maybe not walk them so much. She refused everything! Also many citations. Look at pics dogs are skinny. Several died under her care. I hope they get help for these dogs!

    • Are you nuts !! I have known her for years and she has always been not right in her head !! ACAS and myself along with many other people have tried nicely to reason with her and offer her free food for her dog and what I got was cursed at !! She refused help with dog food from ACAS ! I doubt she has an economic hardship as she has paid these hefty fines for animal cruelty . If she can’t afford her dogs then she needs to stop getting them . Also these are not dogs that nobody wants. Many of us would love to have her dog’s so we can show them what love is !!!

    • I would rather live on the street that be captured beaten and abused. Listed to your comment and use children, homeless people instead of animals. Now how does that sound? Certainly not acceptable to me. NO living creature should be vouchered.

    • you are enabling this woman’s criminal activity; you are an accessory & that is criminal & cruel. Animals are powerless & voiceless .how could you allow this abuse ,neglect & torture to a defenseless animal?

  • Also it’s been 22 yrs to long. You can’t help someone that doesn’t want help. Just so you and anybody else is wondering, there not accusations there’s proof , pic, videos,signed and notarized affidavits. What I don’t understand is why people thinks it ok to abuse and neglect dogs and no one do anything about for years. There are Florida Statues that are suppose to be there for animals but in this case it doesn’t look like there being used. Concerning the lady we are talking about there have also been multiple calls
    to people to check on her as well as get her what ever help it is she is needing. But people don’t want to talk about that.
    ACAS also needs to be evaluated because why has more than 15 years gone by and she is still allowed to adopt from local rescues?????

    Rachel

    • You are so right! If she were beating them to death they would be removed from her, right? Well, maybe she is not beating them to death all at once; they are being killed slowly and painfully. In human medicine, there is a mental condition known as Münchausen syndrome, where typically the parent of a child, keeps the child in a state of bad health, in order to get attention from the physician treating the child. There is a similar condition in pet owners. In this case, the owner may not be seeking the veterinarian’s attention, but, she may be passing off as competent and capable during the appointment. This is indeed a difficult case.

  • The kind thing to do in this situation is to get the dogs out. It’s unfortunate that the abuse and inability to properly take care of the animals is due to a mental health issue but that does not mean this issue should continue. It would be great if the owner could receive more care and if anyone has any suggestions on how to do that through an agency or program that would be great. These animals shouldn’t be subjected to this lifestyle any longer. If these dogs were children or even adults and were extremely malnourished, wounded, getting dragged/yelled at/ and hit with objects then I would hope everyone would do something to remove them from the situation. These animals need to be given a chance at a normal life and they need an owner who can care for them. This owner needs help from professionals or family, the dogs need to be in the care of someone who is capable of taking care of them. Dogs need food and water, these dogs are clearly not receiving enough of that and that’s not ok. If the basics are not being provided or if someone is not able to provide them then that person shouldn’t own an animal. This is an unfortunate situation all around but what’s the point in making additional lives suffer when it’s not necessary. If you need more evidence then please do some research and look for police reports, citations or affidavit’s filed with animal services to get more details.

  • Ed Williams needs to be checked. I have lost all faith in him and what he perceives as acceptable treatment of animals. This has been a long standing perception of people I work with in rescue and shelter dogs. Maybe the lady who doesn’t deserve these dog isn’t the only one who should be investigated. In my humble opinion. His response to several animal neglect situations over the years has bothered my moral compass. Just my opinion. Oh yeah, and someone please get those dogs away from her. Either get all of them to participate in help, or at least save the innocent helpless animals. This has gone on way too long. And our local leaders are the cause of these animals suffering and dying. Should be ashamed.

  • Another concern also is how many animals are living in abused and neglected homes with nothing being done to help them either, and for how long.
    Very concerning. How many abuse and neglect cases are being ignored even after multiple people report the abuse and neglect.

    Rachel

  • The neglect and abuse perpetrated upon these dogs, and upon her previous dogs, is unspeakable.
    And ACAS “Investigations?” A Farce! Just because a Vet is involved, does not ensure these dogs get adequate care. The GPD Officer’s statements belie that these dogs are getting adequate care. Dozens and dozens of credible citizens have described horrors they have seen as to abuse inflicted upon these dogs and their predecessors by this woman.

    She needs mental health services, and the dogs need a chance to thrive. ACAS’s stance on this woman’s history of animal abuse is unconscionable. Oh yes it’s obvious that an “open investigation” status conveniently shields ACAS from commenting publicly on this case. Will ACAS do anything with all the sworn statements and pictures being provided to them clearly documenting an ongoing pattern of horrific abuse?

    The woman has some mitigating circumstances in that she clearly has mental health and other issues. That does not excuse nor condone her actions. But ACAS? What can possibly excuse or condone ACAS’s Lack of Actions?

    If either of these dogs die because of this neglect and abuse, the owner is not the only guilty party; ACAS bears responsibility as well and don’t think for a minute that this matter will “ just blow over and go away.”

    It won’t.
    We’ll see to it.

  • Based on what I’ve read, it sound like it is time to raise this to a higher level. Who does the head of ACAS report to? Maybe a County Commissioner will stand up for these dogs?

  • Katie and Sylvia hit the nail on the head. Thankfully caring and competent neighborhood people have witnessed this horrible situation and are involved. They are determined to do the right thing which is immediately stop the cruelty regardless of the ‘reasons’ for it.

    This community failure falls squarely on the shoulders of local elected officials who represent this area. I hope they have been advised and should have joined immediately in putting an end to this nightmare before we vote to put an end to them. I would never vote for anyone who allows this to go on for even one more minute. Every agency involved has colossally mismanaged this appalling situation letting down the dogs, their owner and the neighbors forced to do their job. Remember this at the polls and keep it active in the media. The court of public opinion has power.

    • My understanding is that Loren Cava’s brother is her guardian and she receives funds from a trust since her parents passed away. Her brother administers the trust. Her mental health has been evaluated and this is why she has a guardian. I have spoken with her every week for the past eight years and my opinion is that she is incapable of understanding that she is harming these dogs. What I don’t understand is why a police officer does not have the authority to stop someone from abusing a dog, regardless of whether there is an open investigation. A police officer is considered an expert witness. I know because I was a police officer although it was in another state, not Flori-duh.

  • If these dogs were human children, this woman would be in jail by now. If she abused them due to mental issues, she would have been deemed unfit to care for them and they would have been removed from her care. Why, then, is it not as big of a deal when it’s a dog? Can you imagine the torment these poor dogs are going through on a daily basis? And everyone is just passing the buck. How many more dogs does she need to kill?

  • Need the name of the vet who is “caring” for these abused animals…not getting the job done at ALL.

  • Everyone should attend a county commission meeting and insist on something being done. I have complained and met with an officer and nothing has happened and that was over a year ago.

  • Ed Williams reports to Carl Smart, Assistant County Manager for Public Safety & Community Support Services. His email address is csmart@alachuacounty.us. He is directly under Michele L. Lieberman, County Manager, 352-374-5204. If Ed can’t do his job maybe it’s time we call his bosses! This is ridiculous!

  • THIS IS AN OUTRAGE , ALARMING & SICKENING !! THIS IS POLICALLY CONNECTED OR THE POLICE SUPERIORS ARE EQUALLY JUST AS SOCIOPATHIC AS SHE IS !!! POLICE IF YOU DO NOT REMOVE THE EMACIATED, ABUSED TORTURED DOGS FROM LOREN CAVA ,YOU ARE GUILTY ALSO OF ANIMAL ABUSE TORE & NEGLECT .SOMEONE ,PLEASE NOTIFY A HIGHER POLICE AUTHORITY OR COURT IN ANOTHER COUNTY OR ON A STATE GOVERNMENT LEVEL .THIS DERRANGED ,MENTALLY WOMAN IS BEONG ENABLED .I AM SICK TO MY STOMACH KNOWING THE POLICE AUTHORITIES ARENT DOING THEIR JOB ..POLICE YOUR JOB DESCRIPTION : PROTECT & SERVE & ARREST CRIMINALS.THIS WOMAN IS A FELON, CLEARLY!!!!

  • The news media locally needs to air this on every channel ! This woman or brother obviously has connections with a politician ,judge or authorities . I am very aware of the political network who allows relatives ,friends etc., to get away with crimes !!!!
    THIS IS SO DISTURBING ON AN UNBELIEVABLE LEVEL !
    LOREN CAVA IS A FELON .AN ANIMAL ABUSER , TORTURER.THOSE POLICE AUTHORITIES WHO ARE ENABLING HER ARE ALSO JUST AS GUILTY !!!

  • Please remove these helpless,neglected ,emaciated, beaten up , beaten down dogs from LOREN CAVA ; DO NOT EVER ALLOW THIS WOMAN TO OWN ANOTHER ANIMAL AGAIN FOR AS LONG AS SHE LIVES ..NO MATTER WHAT POLITICIAN OR POLICE SUPERIOR OR JUDGE SHE IS RELATED TO OR CONNECTED WITH! ANIMAL ABUSE ,NEGLECT IS A FELON.. ITS PLAIN COMMON SENSE & ITS AGAINST THE LAW NOT TO REMOVE THE ANIMALS ; THEN ,ARREST OR PLACE THE PERSON IN A FACILITY FOR THE MENTALLY ILL.

  • Fifteen years later. She is still abusing animals. Gainsborough Florida is becoming a joke – and haven for animal abusers. The world is watching – and it’s disgusted.

    • animal control has the authority & the responsibility to remove these dogs . I wonder , who is the Mayor ? The mayor can ‘light a fire’ under the authorities to protect these animals from abuse & neglect .It is the mayor’s responsibility also. Gainesville is a corrupt Law enforcement town, obviously. Loren Cava obviously is connected politically or this would had been stopped 20 years ago.. I wonder is there a Humane Society in this backward corrupted police town?
      ASPCA ?

  • Observing in horror all the way from Sydney, Australia. Obviously Director Ed Williams of the Alachua County Animal Services and the Gainesville Police Department are pathetic weak men who need to grow a backbone instead of a wishbone. That Ed Williams STILL cannot make a decision after all these years is a huge reflection on his ethics as a human being. This whole case is a reflection on the people who allow this cruelty to continue. Perhaps these ‘investigators’ are into abuse and are abusers themselves? Otherwise how can you not see the pain and suffering that all these animals have undergone over all these years? They slap her with $200 fines and let her keep the animals? Can you imagine how she would have taken her anger out on these poor dogs? It is like abusers who tell the victim they made them abuse! It is incredibly sad that America that used to be such a beacon of light to the rest of the world is hurtling back towards the Dark Ages. The men in authority cannot even stop the abuse of poor dogs? How on earth can you get them to act honourably and be ethical in anything else?

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