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Dogs left in 'hellish' conditions, says Sheriff

Shed temps reached 111-degrees
Posted at 9:57 AM, Jun 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-20 12:45:55-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Sheriff Carmine Marceno announced the arrest of a man on charges of animal abuse after his dogs were found locked inside a hot shed.

Marceno said 23-year-old Donte Sweeting of Lehigh Acres faces four counts of tormenting or depriving an animal.

The former Miami resident was arrested Friday after, Marceno said, "multiple attempts" were made to get him to correct the conditions the dogs were found in, which the sheriff described as "hellish."

The four animals range in age from 1 to 10, including one pregnant dog, and were found locked in cages inside the shed, with inside temperatures reaching 111 degrees. They were found with no food and little water. The animals are now recovering elsewhere.

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Dogs being loaded into a Lee County Animal Services vehicle for veterinary care.

Lee County Animal Services reportedly gave Sweeting two opportunities to correct the conditions prior to his arrest.

Marceno said an anonymous tipster prompted the investigation. He says the growing number of tipsters reporting animal abuse in the county are a credit to a community that cares about the safety of all residents, especially those that cannot speak for themselves.

The sheriff said he is also reaching out to state lawmakers to strengthen animal cruelty legislation in the state, including speaking with senators and Gov. Ron DeSantis.

"You're always wanting to do better," Marceno said Monday. "I think we could do better if we take away that grace period where you have to wait 30 days before taking some sort of action. There should be no waiting period."

The sheriff also wants to see stiffer penalties for offenders. He said the more education and awareness of animal abuse gets to the public, the better the situation will become.