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Levy County couple gives abused animals another chance at life

Angel and Oscar, two dogs with an abusive history as bait dogs, were rehabilitated by Cindy Frazier. Now, they sit with their new owner, Jimmy Wilson. (Jasper Wittig/WUFT News)
Angel and Oscar, two dogs with an abusive history as bait dogs, were rehabilitated by Cindy Frazier. Now, they sit with their new owner, Jimmy Wilson. (Jasper Wittig/WUFT News)

Cindy Kingsley Frazier’s two-bedroom house sits on 5 acres of land at the end of a long dirt road in Chiefland, Florida. It's guarded by a locked gate, security cameras and a dog that sees everything.

Coco, a 100-pound blue pit bull, watches through the window at the door of her private dwelling: a 10-by-20-foot shed, complete with its own fenced-in yard and all the comforts of home, including AC, heat, a TV, stereo, couch and bed.

If an intruder were to come over the fence, the shed’s window would not stop Coco. She has powered through it before.

And she is not fond of people.

“If you get in my yard, you’re climbing my fence,” Frazier said. “And if you climb that fence, you aren’t getting back over it.”

Past Coco’s luxurious shed, 47-year-old Frazier lives with her husband, Errand, 20 dogs and 30 cats. She and her husband have a way with animals, getting along with even the most aggressive dogs. After six years of rescuing animals, they founded the Throw Away Rescue in 2020. The name refers to the discarded animals the couple brings in.

“We don’t even have a home,” she said. “We have a rescue. We have a bedroom. That’s it. The dogs get the rest of the house.”

Frazier speaks with a Southern drawl and has a sarcastic sense of humor and an overwhelming passion for animals — particularly dogs. She has a friendly demeanor and is quick to smile, but there are some things that bring out what she calls  “the wrath of Cindy.”

The precautions around her home are necessary. Facebook users stalk and threaten her online, fabricating lies and reporting her to animal control facilities. They claim she’s stealing donation money and abusing the dogs she rescues.

“If anyone comes over, I shoot first, ask questions later,” Frazier warns.

Her days start at 5:30 every morning to take care of her 50 animals. Then, she works as a night manager at Huddle House, an all-day-breakfast diner. She finally crashes into bed at 3 or 4 in the morning. Then it starts again.

“The dogs take everything,” she said. “They take everything. I'm not even gonna lie.”

Despite it all, Frazier welcomes the parasites, worms and fleas that come with homing these animals. Alachua County has maintained a no-kill status since 2017 — a decision meant to protect four-legged wanderers in shelters. But an unintended consequence is an overflow of animals at local shelters, leading caring people to pick up the work of the professionals.

Alachua County Animal Resources and Care is almost always at capacity, according to supervisor Faren Healey. In June, it temporarily converted two garages into space for portable dog crates and still had more than 50 dogs waiting for kennels to open up. Now the agency will only bring in animals on a situational basis.

“We either do something or they end up dying, and they don’t deserve that,” Frazier said.

She said she would not trade what she does because she sees the direct result of the abusers and breeders who take dog after dog, using them for profit and then abandoning them. Frazier devotes her life to keeping dogs out of the hands of abusers, off the streets, out of overcrowded shelters and away from shelters that will euthanize them due to lack of space.

After working with rescues for nearly a decade, Frazier said she has seen cases that give her nightmares.

Angel was one of these cases.

A woman found the small, brown mutt lying on the side of a Dixie County road barely alive and called Frazier. Frazier suspects Angel had served her purpose as a bait dog for illegal dog fighting and had been left alone to bleed out from fresh bite marks.

“That’s why I call her Angel. Seeing her on that table, chewed to pieces, bleeding,” she trailed off. “Our vet was even in tears because every square inch of her had bite marks. She had holes all over her.”

When the woman who found her said she wanted to adopt Angel, Frazier was ecstatic.

She has limited space and resources, and it can be difficult to find someone willing to adopt the animals she brings in. She spends around $300 a week just on dry dog and cat food. That does not include canned or specialty food, medicine and veterinary costs that add to these expenses.

“Oh, what an awesome person,” Frazier thought at the time. Angel would be in good hands with a young woman who could give the stray a perfect, full-circle ending to her dance with death.

It was not that simple.

Nearly two months after Angel was adopted, Frazier saw a new post on Facebook.

There was Angel , on the side of the road yet again, this time with a gunshot wound through her face. She was fighting for her life.

Frazier messaged the woman who had adopted her.

“Where the hell is Angel?”

The woman did not know.

“You better go find her, and get her to my vet right now.”

When Frazier had Angel back in her care, she refused to give the dog back to the woman who had adopted her.

“You are not going to touch her,” she told her. “Just go. Just go.”

According to Frazier, the woman had been out of town buying a house, leaving Angel to stay with her mother and stepfather. Shortly after being placed in their care, the woman's mother was admitted to the hospital, and her stepfather was left with Angel. That is when Angel was shot.

Although no one can confirm it, Frazier speculates that the stepfather did not want to deal with Angel, so he shot her in the face and left her to die.

“I am going to help you, sweet girl,” Frazier told the dog as she rolled her in a blanket and placed her in her Mercury Grand Marquis, a car that a close friend donated to her.

She was uncertain if Angel would make it another day. She had already survived a week in the woods with a bullet hole through her jaw and infection spreading through her frail body.

“That’s one of the dogs that we rescued. I put her in that situation,” Frazier said.

A single tooth remained on the right side of Angel’s mouth, and the bullet left a hole through her palate and nasal cavity, taking out her bottom jaw.

“Nobody knows where the bullet went,” Frazier said. “We have the X-rays. We literally have no idea. The vets have no idea.”

Frazier was livid at the man who shot her and unleashed her rage in a Facebook post to him.

“This little girl is such a sweet soul and may the person who looked her in the face and shot her live a miserable life with explosive diarrhea daily....and they go back to the pits of HELL in which they came from,” she wrote on Facebook.

Angel could barely eat. She weighed 13 pounds, and she choked on food as it lodged itself in her palate injuries. Frazier took her to Harmony Vet Care in Tampa for surgery, and they successfully closed the hole.

Then she got parvovirus and salmonella. But Angel continued to fight.

Slowly, Angel began to recover. She began eating again and gained 17 pounds. Her entire body wiggled when she was excited.

As Angel regained her health, Frazier slowly introduced her to her non-aggressive pack dogs to help her overcome her fear of other dogs. Angel was doing much better, but Frazier wanted her to be adopted by someone she could trust.

Jimmy Wilson was the perfect person.

Wilson, 54, is one of the administrators for Gainesville Word of Mouth, a local Facebook group. Since this is often where Frazier posts about the dogs she takes in, they got to know each other.

“We instantly clicked. We became like family,” Frazier said.

Before Angel was found, Frazier said Wilson and his wife, Holly, adopted Oscar, a pit bull found on the brink of death after being used as a bait dog — a tool used to train fighting dogs how to attack.

Frazier said she knew she could trust putting Angel in Wilson’s care.

“I know y’all are full, and I don’t really want to ask, but I don’t really trust nobody else,” she admitted. “Would y’all be willing to take Angel?”

The Wilsons already had a house full of five dogs. But Jimmy could not resist.

“It was easy,” he said with a shrug, his bushy white beard bouncing. “And I knew my wife would be right there, too. If not, I’d have done the override.”

He paused and laughed, reflecting.

“I did that once, and we took a very mean English mastiff a long time ago. She said ‘no,’ and then she noticed that when the guy drove away, it wasn’t in his car. It turned out being sweet to us.”

After bringing Angel home, Wilson tried introducing her to his dogs one at a time, but she was scared and defensive. Then, he tried putting her with all of them, and she immediately started warming up.

“I was worried at the beginning,” Frazier said. “And then I started seeing the pictures of them (Oscar and Angel) laying together.”

Rain clouds moved across the darkening sky at Depot Park in Gainesville while Frazier and Wilson talked under a pavilion. The humid air had a slight breeze as the storm got closer and evening approached. A Tupperware filled with water for the dogs sat on the cement.

As they spoke, Oscar and Angel walked circles around Wilson, tangling their leashes and panting wildly. The dogs seemed to be grinning, and their tails wagged excitedly.

Angel now weighs 50 pounds, and the right side of her face droops, but only slightly. She still has no teeth from molar to canine on the right side, but she no longer has pain and can eat comfortably.

“She hangs on tree limbs and chews on anything,” Wilson said, smiling. “Every tree that we have doesn’t have branches below where she can hop.”

A group of kids approached Wilson and the dogs. A young boy cautiously stood back and looked at Wilson.

“Are they friendly?”

“Very friendly.”

The boy eyed Angel suspiciously.

“She still likes everybody even though people were mean to her,” Wilson reassured him.

“Do they (Angel and Oscar) like each other?”

“Oh, they love each other. They sleep with each other all the time. They play all the time.” Wilson looked proud of how far his dogs have come. The boy pet Oscar gently.

Frazier’s phone lit up. Someone has found a litter of kittens.

“Welcome to my life,” she muttered.

Jasper is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing