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Task force tracks names after any animal abuse complaint

Posted at 5:54 PM, Apr 20, 2022

FORT MYERS, Fla. — On Wednesday, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said he's using procedures from a previous animal abuse case to pursue animal cruelty charges against 22-year-old Marcus Chiddister.

Marceno said the viral video shows the 22-year-old repeatedly punching a dog at a gas station off South Cleveland Avenue.

“Everyone has a cell phone and in this case, that cell phone video was critical to getting our success in nailing this clown,” said Marceno.

The sheriff said from there an anonymous Crime Stoppers tip helped detectives identify Chiddister.

The state's attorney filed criminal animal cruelty charges.

Marceno explained why he says it was necessary to first file a civil complaint against Chiddister.

“Now we civilly fight with the courts and we go after, so this person can never have an animal again and we take that dog from him,” said Marceno.

For perspective, an LCSO spokesperson confirmed to me this is not the first animal cruelty case the sheriff took to civil court.

Last year the spokesperson said the sheriff asked a judge to say a woman was unfit to care for her dog...and give LCSO custody.

The judge, in that case, ruled against the sheriff.

Moving forward, the sheriff says LCSO is collecting names of anyone in Lee County who has been involved in some form of an animal cruelty case.

“We have created a list of people that abuse animals to make certain that if we get a call to their residence or they are involved in a call, it's a red flag. and most importantly I don't want them being able to abuse another animal,” said Marceno.