Man facing charges for abandoning dog in parking lot

A man is now facing charges, accused of abandoning a dog in the Walton County Animal Shelter parking lot.
Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 6:44 PM CDT
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DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - An Alabama man is facing charges after leaving a dog in the Walton County Animal Shelter parking lot.

Staff said the morning of May 8th, they noticed the dog roaming the parking lot by himself. They said the shelter office was closed that day, but the staff were still there inside the facility caring for the animals.

“The gentleman had pulled up, walked to the door, then walked back to his car, and just released the dog in the parking lot and drove off,” Walton County Animal Control Cary Miller.

Miller told NewsChannel 7 after shelter staff brought the dog, named Buzz, inside, they were heartbroken to see the condition he was in.

“He was definitely severely dehydrated, and starving,” Miller said. “The dog was hungry, and you could definitely see it based off his body condition. You could see his hip bones and his ribs, and his backbones. He was definitely severely underweight.”

Miller said dogs of Buzz’s breed are usually around 60-65 pounds. He said when Buzz came into the shelter, he was only about 40 pounds.

Miller told NewsChannel 7 he got right to work trying to figure out to the man was. He said because the dog had a microchip, he was able to contact the owners and reach out to the man.

He said he then called out a deputy to take over the investigation.

“Once I started reading through everything, Animal Control was able to identify who had left the animal, they had already pulled video camera footage for me,” Hailey Philips, the Walton County Sheriff’s deputy who got the case, said. “So I get here, and they say they’ve already talked with the gentleman who did what he did and he’s on his way back.”

Philips said the man, identified as Daniel King, 31, of Kinston, Alabama, came back to the shelter and spoke with both Miller and Philips. We’re told they explained why what he did was wrong and is also against Florida law.

“You just can’t leave something that can’t defend for itself, can’t feed for itself, can’t provide shelter in a place- even the sheriff’s office- without some kind of protection,” Philips said.

Philips said because animal abandonment is a misdemeanor, and she wasn’t there in-person to witness the crime, she didn’t take him into custody right away. She told NewsChannel 7 instead, she put together a warrant and got it approved.

She said she told King about the warrant, and on June 5th, he turned himself in. He faces charges of animal abandonment.

But for Buzz the dog, shelter staff said he has gained a healthy amount of weight and has been excited to meet everyone at the shelter since the moment he stepped foot on the property.

“He was not difficult to handle whatsoever. He was still wagging his tail through all of what he went through,” Miller said. “He’s just the sweetest little dog, he’s happy, healthy now. We just hopefully can find him a forever home.”

Miller said if you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to surrender your animal, or you need help, call the Walton County Animal Shelter or the Walton County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency line. He said there is always someone ready to help.

If you’re interested in meeting, and potentially adopting Buzz or any other animal from the Walton County Animal Shelter, click here.