A man was arrested Monday for allegedly throwing his neighbors’ 16-year-old Shih Tzu into a dumpster, police said.
Lee County Sheriff Carmen Marcino announced that 55-year-old Anthony Bellman has been charged with animal cruelty. Press conference.
Employees at a Family Dollar in Lehigh Acres, Florida, discovered a bag of trash inside a dumpster on Dec. 14, police said.
Inside the bag was a Shih Tzu named Xyla with a rope around her neck, according to police.
Employees helped take Xyla to a local pet hospital to be evaluated and also called police to report “intentional abuse,” police said.
Detectives and officers from the county’s Animal Cruelty Task Force quickly responded and found surveillance footage showing Bellman remove a black trash bag from his trunk and casually open it before driving away. Throws into a dumpster several feet away.
“It makes me sick,” Marcino said while playing the clip for reporters.
“You can see in the video that he doesn’t care about Xyla,” he added. “No living thing deserves to be thrown away like ordinary trash.”
Marcino said the video prompted his detectives to go “full force” to find the suspect.
During the investigation, detectives learned that Xyla had been microchipped – but discovered that her original owners had died.
Detectives tracked the suspect’s vehicle to a nearby residence. When detectives knocked on the door, Bellman was seen wearing the same clothing as the suspect in the footage. He was taken in for questioning, police said.
Detectives learned that Bellman told his family that he was taking Xyla to the humane society to be put down.
Bellman was arrested. If convicted, Bellman will be listed on the county’s animal abuse registry, police said.
“The hospital examination showed that Zilla was headed for a painful death,” Marcino said. “Had he not been discovered, his last moments would have been like drowning from the inside.”
Xyla is still recovering, and Lee County Domestic Animal Services officials are working with the State Attorney’s Office to find her a loving home.