GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Sheriff’s deputies arrested a husband and wife Tuesday after authorities said they found 10 starving, dirty dogs without water in their backyard.
The State Attorney’s Office in Alachua County filed 10 counts of aggravated animal cruelty and two counts of fighting or baiting animals – all felonies – against the couple. They were identified as 36-year-old Landis J’Marcus Finch, and his wife, 35-year-old Kendra Nichole Reshard-Finch, both of Waldo.
Their bail was set at $200,000 each.
The couple faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each aggravated animal cruelty offense. For the two animal fighting or baiting offenses, the Finches face a sentence of up to five years and $5,000 in fines.
Under Florida law, a person convicted of animal cruelty is required to undergo psychological counseling or complete an anger management treatment program.
Fighting or baiting animals is defined by Florida law as owning, selling or possessing equipment used for breeding, training or owning wild or domestic animals for animal fighting.
The State Attorney’s office formally charged the couple on Oct. 27, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Capt. Kaley Behl. It’s not unusual for a warrant to take one or two weeks to process before arrests can be made.
A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, Darry Lloyd, said it received a complaint from Alachua County’s animal services agency, which got a tip from the Finch’s neighbor. The Finches would not allow animal service investigators on their property, but the neighbor allowed the officers onto his property to peer into the Finch’s yard, Lloyd said.
The agents could visibly see the distressed dogs, Lloyd said.
Alachua County animal services previously issued a citation to the husband on Sept. 22 for failing to treat 10 dogs on his property humanely. The dogs were dirty, in poor physical condition and had no water, according to the citation. This citation reopened a July 2017 complaint in which Alachua County sued the couple for custody of 11 dogs.
“They’re [animal services] trying to protect the animals, and this couple’s already had one go around with them before,” Lloyd said. “They’re doing the same thing again.”
In that complaint, animal service officers described the dogs as emaciated and dehydrated with hair loss, parasites and fur matted down with feces, the records said. That case was closed in September 2017 when the court ordered nine of the dogs to be turned over to animal services. The couple also was directed not to own more than two dogs and pay the county $574.30 in veterinarian services provided to two dogs, Gohan and Cocoa.
A judge on Nov. 1 found the couple in violation of their orders from 2017 and ordered all 10 dogs to be taken into custody by the animal services agency. The judge also ordered the couple to never own any other animal in Alachua County.
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