Puppy Left Abandoned in SW Florida Parking Lot With Mouth Taped Shut: Deputies

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Two people are behind bars after deputies say they found two dogs inside their car in a Southwest Florida parking lot – with one puppy’s mouth taped shut.

Lee County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived at the scene of Walmart parking lot in Estero late Tuesday night, finding one dog inside the Hyundai SUV and a nine-week-old Great Pyreness breed hanging halfway out a window with its mouth taped shut.

“It disgusts me that an innocent puppy was left alone in a vehicle, unable to eat, breathe, or drink,” Sheriff Carmine Marceno said in a statement. “This type of behavior will not be tolerated in Lee County.”

Deputies located the owners of the animals, 20-year-old Jaelen Barge and 18-year-old Allison Sweck, who told them they had taped the mouth shut to keep the puppy from nipping them.

The county’s Animal Cruelty task force arrived at the scene and discovered the animals had been left without access to food or water. Both Barge and Sweck were arrested and charged with two counts each of animal cruelty.

“It is unbelievable something so senseless could occur,” stated Marceno.  “I am proud to say due to the hard work of our detectives, these heartless criminals are behind bars where they belong.”

The puppy, who deputies named “Phoenix”, is now safe and recovering with the county’s Domestic Animal Services.


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