BY JENNIFER CABRERA
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Erin A. Douglas, 28, has been sentenced to 30 days in jail, 3 years of probation, and 300 hours of community service on 20 charges of animal cruelty. She is also prohibited from having any animals.
Douglas was initially charged with 24 counts of aggravated animal abuse, all third-degree felonies, and five counts of improper disposal of a dead animal. She entered a plea of nolo contendere to 20 first-degree misdemeanor charges of tormenting or depriving animals.
Seven others were also charged after investigators found 19 malnourished dogs, two dead puppies, and three puppy skeletons. Dawson Hicks has also been sentenced to three years of probation on four misdemeanor charges and one felony charge, with adjudication of guilt withheld on the felony charge. The remaining cases are still pending.
Alachua County Sheriff’s deputies and Alachua County Animal Control responded to the 17400 block of SW CR 234 on April 27 after a report of animal cruelty and found a large number of dogs in “obviously frail and neglected condition.” They reported that “several dogs could be heard yelping and wailing in physical pain.”
They reported that they saw young puppies lying in the driveway, too weak to physically stand on their own. Other “extremely malnourished” dogs were around the house. All dogs also had a large number of fleas and ticks, “with flies circling them.”
According to the report, investigators found 19 dogs alive, along with five dead dogs, three of which were skeletal remains only. Three living puppies were found in a cage with the two dead puppies. The living puppies were lying on top of the dead animals, which were in the water bowl inside the cage. The cage and water bowl both had obvious mold on them. Two other dogs were found in cages in the wood without any food or water. One female dog had several puppies who were too weak to stand on their own; the female dog was malnourished and injured but was still trying to care for the puppies and pull them under a vehicle to get out of the rain.
Six more dogs were inside the house, which did not appear to have electricity or running water except in one bedroom, but the dogs did not have access to that room. According to the report, animal feces littered the house, and there were holes in the flooring. Large amounts of trash littered the front yard, and the camper had an open waste line that poured human feces directly onto the ground.
Investigators concluded that all animals on the property “showed signs of a long-term lack of care and treatment for their lives. The lack of food, water, clean or adequate shelter, and veterinary care directly led to the condition of and death of several of the dogs on the property. All residents on the property assisted in the animals receiving the treatment they did and were directly responsible for their care yet all failed to take action to protect these animals from death and unnecessary pain and suffering. Their pain and suffering was shown not only through their physical ailments but also by yelping heard from multiple animals.”