Just before noon on Sunday, December 19th, 2021, a white truck pulled up to the Walton County Animal Shelter in Florida. A man and woman exited the vehicle with a black dog and approached the doors, even though the shelter is closed to the public on Sundays.
They paid no attention to the sign on the front door that reads “STOP, do not bring your animal inside” and lists a phone number where assistance can be reached. After sifting through some donations out front, the man put down a box. Security footage shows both people getting into the truck again, without their dog, and driving off.
According to a statement from the Walton County Sheriff’s Office, an hour passed before the staff inside saw the black dog peering through the shelter’s windows. Then they saw the box the couple left behind with their heartbroken dog. There was movement inside of it.
That’s when shelter staff learned the box contained 11 puppies. As the Sheriff’s Office summarized in a Facebook post:
“These dogs have clearly had a rough 24 hours. Abandoned just days before Christmas and left out in the cold.”
An Abandoned Family Finds People Who Care
Even though the shelter was technically closed, the dedicated staff made sure all 12 dogs made it inside right away for care. The Sheriff’s Office wrote:
“Thankfully, staff are always on hand to care for the animals. The puppies and their momma were quickly brought inside and given shelter.”
They may not know how these 12 dogs were treated before they arrived at the shelter, but at least they’re in good hands now. Alaqua Animal Refuge took them in, and they will soon be available for foster or adoption.
“In our care, they will all learn what it feels like to be loved and taken care of,” AAR wrote on Facebook.
Reach out to Alaqua Animal Refuge if you’re local and can adopt/foster! According to officers:
“The puppies appear to be friendly, although momma dog is wary of people (and who could blame her.)”
Dumping Animals Is Cruel AND Illegal
To play devil’s advocate: It’s always possible that people who abandon their animals genuinely don’t know they have better options. The Walton County Sheriff’s Office requests that anyone struggling to care for a pet contact Animal Services first.
“Dumping animals is ILLEGAL and these individuals could face criminal charges. Reaching out does not mean dropping animals off on a day when the shelter is closed and leaving them for dead. It means picking up the phone and allowing Animal Services employees to provide a time for intake and to collect information about your animals.”
In the comments on the police department’s post about the abandoned family, some indicated that leaving the dogs right outside the shelter is better than nothing. The Sheriff’s Office addressed that argument, noting:
“A lot of comments on here are saying, at LEAST they brought them to the shelter. We don’t think things should work this way. What’s the MOST someone can do? Shouldn’t that be the expectation?”
After investigating, police identified the two individuals seen in the security video. The investigation is ongoing, but the Sheriff’s Office had this to say:
“In the mean time we would like to remind folks; turning your animals in when you are in dire circumstances is certainly one thing. We recognize and know things are hard for everyone right now. But, there is a right way to surrender your animals and a wrong way. This is certainly not the right way.”
Don’t just abandon the animals you can’t care for! Help is out there for those who take the time to seek it.