Walton County Fights Animal Cruelty Crisis

By: Cristina Pfeffer Email
By: Cristina Pfeffer Email

Jordan Denius is one of many families in Walton County dealing with an animal cruelty crisis.

"You never think you are actually going to be a part of it, you want to help, but then all of a sudden all you have is your dog is missing, you find his body and it is just heart breaking to be a part of it,” said Denius.

Her 2-year-old Rottweiler, named Helo, was kidnapped in September, then shot, castrated and left for dead.

A $12,000 reward is being offered, but nearly three months later, no arrest has been made.

Helo's case is unfortunately just one of many animal cruelty cases in Walton County this past year.

“The reason for the influx in the reports is because now it is out there, where we are working it and we will work it through and make arrests,” said Investigator Breezy Adkinson, for the Walton County Sheriff’s Department. “So now people are reporting things they didn't report in the past."

Investigator Breezy Adkinson mans the one person animal cruelty team for the Walton County Sheriff's office.

A position she was put into a few months ago, and is learning as she goes.

"I would like to have a team that does animal cruelty investigations,” said Investigator Adkinson. “That may happen in the future. But right now it is all new, we are all learning, the process, the computers everything."

The large number of cases is a burden on Adkinson and a burden on shelters.

In August, deputies seized 6 horses and 100 dogs from a Freeport woman.

Deputies say the animals had been abused and neglected.

They were turned over to the Alaqua Animal Refuge, nearly doubling the number of animals at the shelter in just one day.

Cases like these are why animal shelters, the Sheriff's office and pet owners are pushing for tougher animal cruelty laws.

"At least we can be a part of the movement and a change and keep the awareness out there,” said Denius.

Denius is talking to state representatives, hoping they'll add a mandatory reporting clause to animal cruelty laws in Florida, similar to what happens in child abuse cases.

She wants veterinarians who see evidence of abuse to animal, to be required to report it.

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