County seizes malnourished dogs

OKEECHOBEE — A dog has died and two others are being cared for after the alleged malnourished animals were taken from their owner, who apparently has a history of abusing dogs.

An anonymous tip reportedly led Deputy Sergeant Arlene Durbin to the home of Robert Edward Thompson Jr. where she allegedly found the three underweight and dehydrated dogs, stated a sheriff’s office report.

Despite animal control’s efforts, the third dog died.

Robert Edward Thompson Jr.

Robert Edward Thompson Jr.

Thompson, 20, N.W. 68th St., Okeechobee, was arrested Feb. 16 on three felony counts of cruelty to animals. He is being held in the Okeechobee County Jail on a bond of $7,500.

The anonymous caller reportedly told Sgt. Durbin, who is with the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) and heads up the county’s animal control department, there were numerous dogs shut up in a pen and one was not moving. The caller went on to say the owner had not been home in weeks, noted an arrest report by OCSO Deputy Bryan Holden.

Officer Samuel Medina, from animal control, responded Friday, Feb. 12, to Thompson’s residence where he found the three dogs in “extremely poor condition,” added the report.

According to Deputy Holden’s report, the dogs had no access to food or fresh water.

Dog number one, a tan and white mixed-breed male in poor condition, was chained to a barn pole and the only drinking water it could access was filled with algae.

Dog number two, a neutered black and tan mixed-breed male was in extremely poor condition. The deputy’s report noted the dog was in a small divided pen and the only water it had contained large amounts of algae.

Dog number three, a black and tan mixed-breed male in extremely poor condition, was also in a small pen with access only to drinking water that, again, contained large amounts of algae.

Due to the residence being abandoned, and the condition of the animals, Officer Medina seized the dogs and took them to animal control where they could be treated.

Deputy Holden documented how after the dogs were examined by the animal control’s emergency veterinarian from Pet Emergency of Martin County, the first dog was allegedly found to be suffering from dehydration, poor body condition from a lack of food and a swollen abdomen from gas. The dog was reportedly 20 to 30 percent under weight. The veterinarian apparently said the dog needed to be admitted to the clinic for at least two days to be treated.

The second dog, continued the report, also suffered from dehydration, as well as extremely poor body condition from the lack of food. The dog reportedly had a fever, an open and infected wounded on the left side of its tail head and was 50 to 55 percent under weight. The veterinarian recommended the dog also be admitted to the clinic for at least two days to be treated.

The third dog appeared to be in worse condition than the second dog, stated the deputy’s report. The animal did not eat or drink water and vomited when pedialytes were administered. The dog then died prior to the veterinarian’s evaluation, added the deputy.

Deputy Holden reportedly contacted Superior Water Services certified water quality specialist Billy McCullers, regarding the amount of time it takes algae/bacteria to grown in a container. Mr. McCullers reportedly told Deputy Holden algae can begin to grow the same day. But after examining photos provided by the deputy that showed algae growing on the sides of the container as well as in the water itself. He allegedly said if clean water had been added to the container on a daily basis, the algae would only be on the sides of the container and not in the water itself, noted the deputy’s report.

Mr. McCullers told the deputy the water in the photos was considered to be stagnant, which means the oxygen level in the water had decreased to the point that bacteria had started to grow, added the deputy’s report. He went on to say animals will not drink stagnated water — no matter how thirsty they are — because they know something is wrong with it. McCullers also stated that it would take up to 14 days for the water to become stagnated to this point, pointed out the report.

Deputy Holden went on to state Thompson has made no attempt to contact animal control to check on his dogs.

The deputy also pointed out Thompson has had two prior cases where animal control has seized dogs from him. Those dogs were euthanized due to injuries and aggressive behavior, Deputy Holden stated.

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