[PHOTO CREDIT: Lake County Sheriff’s Office]
[Original Publish Date: 04/01/21]
LEESBURG, Florida — Multiple complaints about barking dogs and a putrid smell at a local motel led to an investigation into animal cruelty in December and resulted in a pair of arrests in February.
After the manager Best Value Inn, 1412 South 14th Street, Leesburg received multiple complaints, a Lake County Animal Services (LCAS) officer investigated the putrid smell and barking coming from Room 4 on Dec. 10.
When the officer and motel manager entered the room, the entire tile floor was covered in urine and 20 piles of fecal matter were scattered throughout the room, according to a probable cause affidavit. While conducting his investigation, Amber Ann Perez, 24, arrived at the room and began hindering his investigation by being “extremely hostile” towards him and he requested assistance from Leesburg Police Department.
LPD officers arrived and Perez “continued to be extremely uncooperative and belligerent towards all involved parties, as well as innocent bystanders,” the affidavit states. Perez told authorities she did not want to keep the dogs and wanted to surrender them. The LCAS officer questioned Perez about the living conditions and Perez told him she takes care of the dogs and did not see an issue with the dogs’ living conditions, according to the affidavit.
In addition to the urine-covered floor and multiple piles of feces, no food or water could be found for the dogs, according to the affidavit. The LCAS officer instructed Perez to walk the dogs to him one-by-one to surrender them and while taking the dogs into custody, the LCAS officer found visible injuries on each of the four dogs.
An adult male hound had urine-stained legs, an ear infection emitting a foul odor, pus discharge from its eyes and extremely long nails that caused the dog difficulty when it walked. An adult boxer’s vertebrae, ribs and hips were “clearly visible” and the LCAS officer observed “muscle wasting,” and two chihuahua puppies confined to the same crate were lethargic, malnourished and had discolored gums.
While the LCAS officer was securing the pooches, a man identified as Jonathan N. Love, 37, arrived and was also hostile towards authorities. The officer explained the situation to Love, to which he replied, “Just take the damn dogs,” the affidavit states. Love claimed ownership of the dogs and said they had plenty of food and water. The LCAS officer asked Love to show him a bag of dog food which he failed to do.
The dogs were taken to the Lake County Animal Shelter and an arrest warrant was issued for both Perez and Love. Love was arrested Feb. 18 and later pleaded no contest to four counts of animal cruelty. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail and released in February.
Perez was picked up in Volusia County on the warrant for four counts of animal cruelty on Feb. 28. She was transferred to the Lake County Jail Monday. She pleaded no contest Tuesday and was also sentenced to 10 days in jail. She was given credit for time served in Volusia County and released Tuesday.
Our Editor-in-Chief, Marilyn M. Aciego, began writing for Lake Legal News in 2010. Born and raised in Lake County, she is a graduate of Umatilla High School and Lake-Sumter State College. She started her journalism career at LSSC, where she was editor of both student publications, The Angler and The Odyssey. Her professional career began at the Daily Commercial in 2004 where she covered cops and courts the majority of her time there until she left in 2009. Currently, along with being Editor-in-Chief of Lake Legal News, she is the Florida bureau chief for an international media organization. She has made more than two dozen appearances on live national television, including Nancy Grace and the Greta Van Susteren show, along with her appearance on Evil Twins. Contact her with breaking news, tips, and feedback by sending an e-mail to 352Tips@gmail.com. You can also contact us on our Facebook page — and make sure you “Like” and “Follow us” there. [PHOTO CREDIT: Bonnie Whicher]