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ESTERO, FL – Yesterday evening deputies responded to a call of a puppy inside of a vehicle in distress, halfway hanging out of a window, with his mouth taped shut. While on scene, deputies located the puppy in a Blue Hyundai SUV in the parking lot of Walmart on S. Tamiami Trail in Estero, Florida. There was also another dog located inside of the vehicle.
Deputies quickly made contact with the suspects and dog’s owners, later identified as Jaelen Anthony Barge, 20, and Allison Marie Sweck, 20. Deputies discovered the suspects taped and tightly wrapped a training lead around the puppy’s snout to prevent the puppy from nipping them. Due to the nature of the crime, detectives from the South District Criminal Investigations Division and Animal Cruelty Task Force assumed the investigation.
While investigating, detectives learned the proper use of the training lead the suspects utilized is to provide gentle control to help keep a dog from pulling during walks, not to be used as a muzzle. It was also discovered the puppies were left alone without accessible food or water.
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“It disgusts me that an innocent puppy was left alone in a vehicle, unable to eat, breathe, or drink,” stated Sheriff Carmine Marceno. “This type of behavior will not be tolerated in Lee County.” “It is unbelievable something so senseless could occur,” “I am proud to say due to the hard work of our detectives, these heartless criminals are behind bars where they belong.”
Both Barge and Sweck were arrested and booked at the Lee County Jail, charged with one count each of Aggravated Animal Cruelty and one count of Animal Cruelty. The puppy with its mouth taped shut, a 9-week-old Great Pyrenees, is now safe and recovering at the Lee County Domestic Animal Services.