Eight people have been charged with 24 counts of aggravated animal cruelty on Wednesday after law enforcement discovered a horrific scene of two dozen dogs at a Micanopy property, including some that were found locked in a kennel crawling over other deceased dogs.
An arrest report from the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office shows that at least four people have been arrested: William Garcia, 27; Erin Douglas, 27; Kimberly Hicks, 43; and Dawson Hicks, 22;
The other four subsequently charged are William Ferguson Sr, 69; Debra Ferguson, 63; Stephanie Prentzler, 38; and Steven Lancaster, 60. In addition to the felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty, the eight defendants were charged with five counts of unlawful disposal of a dead animal, a second-degree misdemeanor.
Douglas, Hicks and Garcia each admitted to owning or being involved with the dogs in some way, according to the arrest report. Others stopped talking after they were mirandized.
In total, 19 dogs, many malnourished with fleas and ticks, were found alive in a frail and neglected condition with ribs protruding their the skin, the report states. A deputy arrived on the scene following a neighbor’s tip and quickly could hear yelping and wailing animals in physical pain.
At least three of the live dogs were young puppies found lying in the driveway too weak to stand on their own, the deputy reported. Three others were found locked inside a kennel resting on top of two dead dogs.
The deputy also found skeletal remains of three other dogs on the property, the report states.
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Deputies described the residence as extremely dilapidated and not appearing to have electricity or running water. Animal feces littered the house and large mounds of trash filled the front yard of the residence with a camper that had an open waste line allowing human feces to pour directly into the ground, according to the report.
One female dog was found with several weak puppies. Deputies say this female dog was malnourished and unable to put pressure on one rear leg due to an injury. However, she was still attempting to care for her puppies by helping them to move under a vehicle to get out of the rain.
Alachua County Animal Control assisted in the investigation, stating that the condition of many of the animals was life-threatening and cause for immediate removal and veterinary care, according to the arrest report.
This article will be updated.