Keystone Heights, FL

Florida man arrested for animal abandonment in Keystone Heights, deputies say

Zoey Fields

An Alachua man was transported from Alachua County Jail to Clay County Jail Wednesday due to an active warrant for animal cruelty and animal abandonment, deputies say.

On Sept. 2, 2022, Clay County Animal Control contacted the Clay County Sheriff’s Office to notify them of an animal abandonment investigation at 6930 Oakbrook Court in Keystone Heights. The Animal Control officer said there was a complaint about a dog left inside a metal crate in the property's side yard.
Ward was in Alachua County Jail on different charges. He was transported to Clay County Jail and is awaiting bond amount.Photo byScott RodgersononUnsplash

It was determined that the home belonged to Joshua Ward, 33, of Alachua. Ward was not present at the home, so Animal Control took custody of the dog in the crate and noted it needed food, water and proper care due to being abandoned, the arrest warrant said.

On Sept. 13, 2022, a friend of Ward’s wife was at the Oakbrook residence and found a dead dog inside. Both Clay County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Animal Control officers responded to the property.

It is noted that no one was currently living at the residence and deputies were given written consent from the custodian of the property to enter the home, the arrest warrant said. The power inside the home was shut off and, throughout the house, there was a large amount of feces and urine stains on the floor and furniture.

The inside of the residence emitted a strong odor from the urine and feces, deputies said. They observed multiple bowls on the floor — none of them containing food or water, they said. Deputies checked throughout the residence for any food and found none.
Joshua WardPhoto byClay County Sheriff's Office

It is noted there were dry bloodstains on the floor, along with scratch marks on the walls near the front door, the arrest warrant said.

The dead dog, whose name was determined to be “Coco,” was described as emaciated, covered with dead fleas, flea debris and had overgrown toenails, deputies said. Coco also had dry feces on its body, deputies said.

The source who confirmed the dog’s name also told deputies that the dog had been in the care and control of her daughter and Ward for several months, the arrest warrant said.

Clay County Sheriff’s Office presented a subpoena to Clay Electric in order to determine when the power was disconnected from the Oakbrook Court address. The account information revealed the power was disconnected on Aug. 15, 2022—several weeks prior to finding the dead dog on Sept. 13.

Deputies spoke with Ward on Oct. 18, 2022, but his statements have been removed from the arrest warrant. The Clay County Sheriff’s Office cites Florida Statute 119 for its reasons for the redactions.

“Under Florida State Statute 119.071, confessions and admissions of guilt are exempt from public records disclosure and should not be released until such time as the case is finally determined by adjudication, dismissal, or other final disposition. Such statements shall be redacted from any reports requested pursuant to FSS Chapter 119,” a sheriff’s spokesman said.

Readers can access the requested arrest reports here.

A warrant for Ward’s arrest was issued Thursday, March 16, based on the actions and evidence collected throughout the investigation. Ward was already in jail in Alachua County and, therefore, was transported from Alachua County to Clay County Jail and he is awaiting bond.

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Accredited journalist with experience covering a wide range of stories consisting of breaking news, city and county government, crime and courts, feature stories and local interest. Facebook Bulletin writer, reporter; The Learning Curve. Twitter: @zoeyfields0

Jacksonville, FL

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