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Monday, May 20, 2024

Alachua man arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty after death of one pitbull

Police found 3 malnourished, 1 deceased pitbulls

An Alachua man was arrested Thursday on multiple counts of animal cruelty after officers discovered one dead and three extremely malnourished pitbulls in his home.

On Dec. 12, officers were called to the home of Raymond Merricks, 44, after learning that a malnourished pitbull was running loose in the neighborhood and killed the neighbor’s chickens, according to the arrest report. The dog was captured and rescued by Alachua County Animal Services.

Alachua Police Department officers identified the dog as belonging to Merricks, according to a social media release.

While approaching his home, officers noticed another malnourished pitbull chained to a tree stump and surrounded by feces. The dog had significant hair loss and fleas crawling on it, according to the arrest report.

The backyard contained two makeshift cages. Officers discovered a malnourished pitbull in one cage, and a dead pitbull in the other. 

The dead pitbull was chained to the inside of the cage, which was littered with trash and had mold-covered feces, according to the arrest report.

Both cages had no gate, which forced officers to pry them open to rescue the dogs. Despite officers finding a large, unopened bag of dog food in Merricks’ garage, no food was found in any bowls around the home, according to the arrest report.

The dogs were covered in feces and fleas, and one dog had missing teeth and skin sores, according to the release. 

A local judge issued an arrest warrant Wednesday, and Merricks was arrested the following day after appearing in court for a custody hearing over the animals. Merricks has six prior felony convictions, according to a court document.

8th Circuit State Attorney Brian Kramer has placed a special emphasis on animal cruelty cases since assuming office in January 2021, despite their status as relatively low-level felonies or misdemeanors. 

“We take those [cases] very seriously. Even though that might be a third-degree felony or first-degree misdemeanor, we still take those extremely seriously,” Kramer said.

Kramer believes these cases may provide early warning signs of mental health problems or future dangerous behavior, he said. 

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“It's just an indication that the person who's doing it has got something very significantly wrong in their life,” he said. 

Merricks was arrested on two felony counts and two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. He is currently being held at the Alachua County Jail on a $40,000 bond. 

Contact Daniel Bednar at Follow him on X @Danielbednar5. 

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Daniel Bednar

Daniel Bednar is a first-year political science major and the Criminal Justice reporter for The Alligator. When he's not writing, you can find him scuba diving in the Keys or flying airplanes. 

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