DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (WKRG) — Two people from Okaloosa County have come forward after surveillance video shows them abandoning a female dog and a box full of puppies at a closed Northwest Florida animal shelter.
The Walton County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) posted a video of the incident from Sunday, Dec. 19 on their Facebook page.
In the footage, you can see the pair drive up to the Walton County animal shelter on Triple G road in a white truck, the female dog follows behind as the man drops a box on the doorstep with 11 puppies inside.
The animal shelter was closed to the public Sunday, but employees were there to take care of the animals. Animal Services manager Patty Weingartner says she saw the mom running around outside before she knew what happened.
“I went up the front of the office, and there was a dog peering through the window. I went to open it, and it took off running,” Weingartner said. “Then about an hour later, there were donations out there, and we thought, ‘OK, let’s go get the donations in,’ and there was a box sitting there. Not a peep, no noise. I wasn’t even thinking of anything like that, and it was a box full of 11 puppies.”
The puppies are about 4 weeks old, and the shelter estimates the mom to be about 5 years old.
“The runt probably was only a couple ounces, probably 8 ounces. It was the tiniest little baby in there and just the sweetest little puppies,” Weingartner said.
WCSO says the puppies are young enough to be fed by the mother dog, but no food or water was left for the animals. The two people are also seen in the footage rummaging through donations outside the shelter before leaving.
“It was kind of sad,” said Weingartner. “What was out there that day was some sheets and some blankets, and some dog beds and a sleeping bag. That is what the gentlemen picked up and laid back down. It was sad to see that as they left puppies, and the mom behind they were looking through that. But we are not in their shoes.”
WCSO will not release the suspects’ names at this time. With the suspects identified, WCSO says they will be investigating further into the case.
“I just feel like the number is on the door, a little bit more could have been done. I don’t want to judge them but a little bit more could have been done,” said Weingartner. “If the puppies didn’t make a noise and we didn’t take in the donations, we would have missed them and they would have been out there until the very next day.”
The pair from Okaloosa County could face animal cruelty charges for abandoning the dogs. The animals will be taken care of by Alaqua Animal Refuge.
“They are already down there at the new animal refuge. They have a foster to take the mom and the puppies until the puppies can be weened from the mom. They did not look like they were in bad health,” Weingartner said. “Eventually, they will be able to adopt them out and fine the mom her forever home.”
The Walton County Animal Service says while dropping off dogs at a shelter seems like the right thing to do, the correct policy is to call the shelter and let them know.
“There is a very skeleton crew when we are closed to the public, so we’re normally just in the back where the animals are. We’re cleaning their kennels, feeding them,” said Weingartner. “It just happened that I walked up there and saw the dog looking through the window, like ‘What’s happening?’ You know? And I’m just like, ‘Why is there a dog out front?'”
The Walton County shelter is one of the only county-run shelters in Northwest Florida. You can call them at 850-892-8758, and if no one answers, call dispatch at 850-892-8111, and animal services will be contacted.
“I just wish and hope that people will see this, and again I know we all get judgy at times, but is a tough time of the year, just please do the right things by the animals,” said Weingartner. “Contact us, do not leave them, doesn’t matter if it’s our shelter or somebody else. Do not leave an animal outside. Call.”