UPDATE: Union County Sheriff’s Office, ASPCA Announce Charges in Florida Animal Cruelty Case

January 17, 2020

Lake Butler, Fla.—With support from the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), the Union County Sheriff’s Office (UCSO) and local prosecutors today announce 31 counts of animal cruelty charges against Mr. Robin L. Deen and Mrs. Marie H. Deen of Lake Butler, who were arrested and first appeared today. The charges included 14 felony counts and 17 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.  

In September of last year, the ASPCA assisted the UCSO with the rescue of more than 75 animals, including dogs, cats, and small equines, in Lake Butler. Upon arriving on scene, investigators discovered the animals living in substandard conditions and exhibiting signs of neglect, with some living in unsanitary kennels and suffering from various medical issues. 

“A primary focus for the ASPCA is to work alongside law enforcement, prosecutors, and animal welfare professionals across the country to improve the lives of animals – especially those being abused or neglected,” said Jennifer Chin, vice president of ASPCA Legal Advocacy and Investigations. “These animals were living in inadequate conditions where their basic needs were not being met, and we’ve had the privilege of watching them thrive in our care these past few months. We’re pleased to have the Union County Sheriff’s Office and local prosecutors as strong partners in tackling animal cruelty in Florida and are grateful for their commitment to seeking justice for these animals.”

“We would like to thank the ASPCA for assisting us in this complex, detailed investigation into animal cruelty in our county,” said Union County Sheriff Brad Whitehead. “We take all of these cases very seriously and animal cruelty will not be tolerated. We have worked very closely with the ASPCA and thank them for their expertise and evidence collection so we could proceed with charges and prosecution.”

The ASPCA also assisted with evidence collection, forensics exams, medical treatment, and behavioral enrichment for the animals, some of whom continue to receive ongoing care from ASPCA professionals. Many of the animals who were surrendered by the owners have been successfully placed with the ASPCA’s network of Response Partners and are already living in new, loving homes.

The following animal welfare organizations assisted with this case:

AVS Equine Hospital (FL); Animal Welfare League of Charlotte County (FL); Cat Depot (FL); Citizens for Humane Action (OH); Citrus County Animal Services (FL); Columbus Humane Society (OH); Gainesville Animal Hospital West (FL); Humane Rescue Alliance (DC); Newberry Animal Hospitals (FL); San Diego Humane Society (CA); SPCA Florida (FL); University of Florida (FL)

The ASPCA deploys nationally to assist local authorities in animal cruelty cases including animal fighting, hoarding, and puppy mills. It also provides local communities with resources including grant funding, training, and subject matter expertise to effectively assist animals during cruelty and disaster situations.