The story of two baby collie mixes left to die in a Clearwater parking lot has prompted the Humane Society of the United States to take action.
The agency is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person responsible.
"The nature of the crime is very disturbing,'' said Jennifer Hobgood, the organization's Florida director. "This puppy was brutally beaten to death from what the necropsy showed. Anyone who would commit that kind of horrendous act is an unstable, dangerous individual who needs to be identified and brought to justice.''
The money comes from the organization's First Strike program, which aims to stop violence by connecting cruelty to animals with cruelty to people.
The puppies were discovered by a resident in the parking lot of a small medical building at 1384 Pierce St. the morning of June 30. The resident contacted Clearwater police.
The first officer to arrive at the parking lot that day was Adam Jacques, 26, who has been with the Clearwater Police Department for a year and a half.
He found one puppy already dead, lying next to a large box of dog food. Her jaw was broken and her skull fractured in several places.
The other was running around, hot and confused.
"Right away I could tell he was sweet,'' Jacques said of the pup. "I kind of felt bad for him, what he saw. He's our best witness but unfortunately, he can't tell us what happened.''
But this story has a happy ending.
A police sergeant started telling the puppy he could go home with Jacques. The officer was all for it, but first he had to clear it with his wife, Amy, 24. So the puppy, who was dubbed Lucky, went to the SPCA Tampa Bay in Largo.
On the Fourth of July, Jacques, Amy and their 15-month-old son, Landon, went to the facility to see 10-week-old Lucky.
At first, Amy was worried about the furniture.
"She said, 'Is he going to chew on our couch?' '' Jacques said.
But Lucky soon won her over. It will be the family's first dog.
"My thinking was, make sure he had a good home,'' Jacques said. "He had been through a lot.''
While Lucky has been adopted, more than 100 dogs and cats rescued last week from a puppy mill in Tennessee remain at SPCA Tampa Bay.
But some may be leaving soon. About 30 of the animals ages 6 months and older will be put up for adoption at noon Wednesday.
Volunteers are working with the dogs to get them ready. They are taking them outside to play in the sunshine.
"They are letting them realize what it's like to be a dog,'' said Marissa Segundo, spokeswoman for SPCA Tampa Ba.
Eileen Schulte can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4153.