A man has been arrested on aggravated animal cruelty charges in connection with the abuse of six dogs

A Palm Coast man was arrested on four felony counts of animal cruelty against six bulldogs.

The man, Willie Gardner III, turned himself in to the Perry Hall Sheriff’s Prison on November 8, about a month after the Bunnell Police Department investigation began. Police responded Oct. 14 to complaints from residents at the 500 block of South Railroad Street in Bonnell that they reported that multiple dogs had been abandoned at the home, according to a BPD press release.

Willie Gardner III. Photo provided by Bonnell Police Department

According to the police report, Gardner, of Palm Coast, had been keeping animals in the home. The report said that the family that inherited the home after the death of its occupant told BPD officers that no one had permission to be there or to store their dogs there.

The dogs were kept apart and tied on short leashes across the backyard. They were surrounded by feces, had no water, and only one dog was getting any food, the report said. The six dogs had fresh and old injuries and illnesses, and no shelter was available for them, according to the press release.

All six dogs were rescued by BPD and Flagler Animal Control on October 14th and are currently receiving care at Flagler Humane Society.

BPD officers and Flagler County Sheriff’s Office detectives worked together to investigate the situation and identify Gardner as the dog’s owner. The press release said Gardner was already the subject of a civil petition from Flagler County Animal Control in January of this year to determine his ability to adequately groom the dogs in his possession.

That petition ended with County Judge Gardner ordering that the animals receive adequate food, water, and shelter and ordering him to update Animal Control with vaccination documents and updated street addresses for six months.

The press release said Gardner contacted the Humane Society on Oct. 17 to claim the dogs. FCSO investigators obtained a search warrant, the press release said, and found 50 videos on his cellphone that depicted dogs fighting or being injured, with Gardner or his voice in them.

A warrant for Gardiner’s arrest was issued on November 7, though police were unable to arrest him until he turned himself in to the county jail on November 8, the press release said.

Bonnell Police Chief David Brannon said: “I would like to thank the citizens who have come forward to report their concerns about these dogs and their condition.” “Also, thank you to Officer Bunnell Zapata and Detective Conrad at the Flagler Sheriff for their teamwork and precision in bringing this difficult case to a successful conclusion, and for holding Willie Gardner accountable for this disgusting case of cruelty to these dogs.”

Gardner, who was being held on a $40,000 bond, was granted bail and released by 7 pm on November 8. He is scheduled to appear in court on December 19.

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