LEHIGH ACRES, Fla.- Lee County Domestic Animal Services responded to a call at 1016 Habersan Ave. regarding two dogs tied out without water on Wednesday. When officers arrived one of the Bull Mastiffs was dead and the other was in obvious distress.

A thermometer placed in the vicinity of the dogs registered 112 degrees Fahrenheit. The internal temperature of the deceased dog registered 130 degree Fahrenheit. As no one was home at the time, both dogs were removed from the property and brought to Animal Services’ clinic. The surviving dog was treated for heat exhaustion.

The caretaker for the last month, Valencia Ward, was subsequently charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty under Florida State Statute punishable by a $5,000 fine and up to one year in jail for the deceased canine. Ward was also charged with animal cruelty under Lee County Ordinance for the surviving dog, which suffered from heat exhaustion. The dog was released back to the owner, Stacey Johnson. She was charged with failure to license and vaccinate her dog.

Lee County’s Ordinance will be up for review by Commissioners in August. The new ordinance would prohibit the outdoor unsupervised tethering of dogs. Officers routinely deal with the problem which often leads to strangulation, heat exhaustion, and aggression. Fourteen Florida cities and counties have already passed anti-tethering ordinances.

“The proposed ordinance change would give Animal Control Officers the legal authority to prevent such senseless cruelty,” says Glenn Johnson, LCDAS Operations Manager.

To report animal neglect or abuse call Lee County Domestic Animal Services at 239-533-7387 (LEE-Pets).