A pit bull mix mother and three of her puppies died in a fire that was caused by a space heater.
According to Pensacola News Journal, the space heater was inside the dog's outdoor kennel to keep the dogs warm during a recent cold snap in Cantonment, Florida. The space heater was most likely knocked over by one of the dogs.
The owner of the dogs, Carlos Moorer, received three citations, which included three counts of animal cruelty for inadequate shelter, two counts of non-potable water, and two citations for unlicensed and unvaccinated animals.
Escambia County Public Information Officer Joy Tsubooka wrote in an email:
"The officer who responded last night wrote multiple violations to homeowner. The citations were written as a mandatory court appearance, and we will ask the judge for injunctive relief to prevent him from owning animals for whatever time the judge determines."
The fire was brought to the attention of animal services by Laura Gunn Catterton, who detailed the incident and posted a video of the fire to Facebook.
Catterton wrote on Facebook:
"I heard the dog screaming. I climbed over the fence but couldn't save them."
John Robinson, division manager of Escambia County Animal Control, said he has publicly pleaded time and time again with pet owners to bring their animals inside during frigid winter days and nights.
"When it's this cold, people just need to bring their animals inside, it makes no sense not to. We don't have an ordinance that forces people to bring those animals inside, but they really need to bring them inside and they really don't need to use space heaters, heat lamps, things like that, because this is exactly the type of issue you'll have. Either a dog will get burned by it or they'll fall over and start a fire. There's a lot of issues that come with putting a heating device in a small compact shelter or pen."
In addition to the four dogs that died, seven other dogs were discovered on Moorer's property. The dogs were all kept outside in three fenced pens, each of which had a barrel for shelter. Moorer was ordered to take the surviving dogs inside his house.
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