Deputies investigating after dog starved to death, left in crate and dumped into Clay County creek

The search is on for whoever starved a young pit-bull to death, left it in a tied-up crate and then dumped it into a Clay County creek.


It’s a case that officials have called “disturbing.”

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Investigators said a group of kayakers found the crate partially sticking out of the water, it was in a creek off the St. Johns River near County Road 209. It happened in early March and the Sheriff’s Office is working with Clay Animal Services and the Humane Society of the United States, which is offering a $5000 reward for any information leading to an arrest.

Action News Jax spoke with one of the kayakers who made the disturbing find.

“I just can’t image doing something like that,” the kayaker said. “There’s so many other options, even taking to the shelter and dropping them off, starving it and throwing over a bridge blows my mind.”

The kayaker didn’t want to be identified for safety reasons, she told Action News Jax she was with three people and it’s a spot they’ve kayaked before. She said the crate was partially sticking out of the water and at first they thought it was a crab trap.

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“I figured it came loose and blew up with the tide, we always grab them and pull them out because they kill things over and over again,” she said. “When we started pushing it more out of the water and we realized it was a dog crate and we were unfortunate to find there was a dog in the crate.”

The kayaker called 911 in early March when it happened and Detective Gary Winterstein with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office has been investigating this for the last month, but leads are slim.

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“There was a handle, a rope, some kind of leather that was fashioned on the cage and they believe it was used as a handle to lift and throw the dog and the cage in the creek,” he told Action News Jax.

The male pit-bull was roughly 2-to-4-years-old, either gray and white or brown and white, but investigators said it’s difficult to tell because of the discoloration. Right now, there’s no suspect information and they don’t have DNA evidence.

“The cage was in the water and the dog was in the water for so long, I don’t believe there’s anything they could have done,” Winterstein said.

The Florida State Director for the Humane Society, Kate MacFall said there’s a $5000 reward for information leading to arrest and conviction.

“Cruel, absolutely cruel to starve this innocent dog to the death, then try to cover it up put them in a crate, in the water thinking nobody will find it, I suppose,” she said. “Someone knows something and we really hope this helps.”

Detective Winterstein said whoever did this will face an animal cruelty charge, he said they’ve gone door-to-door and looking for video to try to solve the case.

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“Just trying to find someone to give information for who may be responsible for it,” he said.

For the kayaker we spoke to, she’s a dog mom of two, so this struck a nerve. She’s hoping someone is held accountable.

“I would love for someone to turn this person in, and if someone looks at the picture of the crate, thinks about, ‘hey my friend had a dog now it’s gone’ I’d love them to share the information,” she said.

Investigators said the dog was wearing a large black or brown collar that was too big for it, saying it looked like two pieces of leather pieced together with metal and had a big buckle on it. The pit-bull was not microchipped nor did he have a name tag. The Sherrif’s Office said it believes the dog was dead for about a week and in the water for a couple days when they found it.

If you know anything about this, you’re urged to call Detective Winterstein at 904-591-4551.

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