Reward for clues rises in animal cruelty caseBy JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer
Published December 9, 2005
Pasco County Animal Services and the Pasco County Sheriff's Office are continuing a joint investigation into the torture of a pit bullterrier puppy found abandoned in Crystal Springs on Monday.
As the investigation mounts, so too does the incentive to those with knowledge of the crime to cooperate: a $3,800 reward, privately raised, for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the dog's plight.
"We really appreciate the support of the people from the community in a case like this," said Animal Services manager Denise Hilton. "Whoever the individuals are who did this, they're quite ill and they need some help."
That's because the dog now known as Miracle was found in horrid condition Monday afternoon by carpenter Gary Franckewich, who rushed the starved and tortured animal to the Crystal Springs Veterinary Clinic.
Her jaws were rubber-banded shut over her maggot-infested tongue, which later was partially amputated. Her mouth also rotted and she is losing parts of her lips. Miracle can be fed only liquids through an IV.
A back leg is broken, as is the hip joint on the other leg. A front leg has a shattered elbow. Miracle will need surgery and rehabilitation if she survives, which is not yet assured. Franckewich got to see the puppy he intends to adopt Thursday morning at the clinic.
"She looks right at you," he said. "It looks like she wants to smile at you, but she's not out of the woods yet."
The clinic has been inundated by callers pledging money to pay for Miracle's medical care. Pasco sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin said investigators have received two tips in the case.
Danny Timmer, one of the west Pasco businessmen who contributed toward the original $700 reward to aid the investigation on Wednesday, has also been inundated with pledges from Tampa to Spring Hill more than quintupling the reward.
"They're just disgusted, they're outraged at this thing, and they just can't believe somebody would actually do that to an animal," he said. "One man called up and pledged $3,000. They don't want notoriety from it or anything. They just want to see this person caught and prosecuted to the fullest."
Any individuals linked to torturing Miracle could face felony animal cruelty charges, which can carry up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. It is one of the worst cases of animal cruelty Pasco has seen in years, said Hilton, the Animal Services manager.
"We've seen some pretty bad things over the years," she said, "But this animal has suffered egregiously from someone doing nothing but pure evil to it."TO HELP MIRACLE:
Information and money are sought after the torture of the puppy known as Miracle. She is being treated at the Crystal Springs Veterinary Clinic, which can be reached at (813) 788-4511. The clinic is asking donors to send checks in care of the clinic to P.O. Box 818, Crystal Springs, FL, 33524. Anyone with information about what happened to the puppy is asked to call the Pasco County Sheriff's Office toll-free at 1-800-706-2488 or contact Pasco County Animal Services at (352) 521-5194, (813) 929-1212 or (727) 834-3216. For information about the reward, contact Jo-Dan Auto Sales at (727) 846-0446 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.[Last modified December 9, 2005, 01:19:17]