- Florida, USA -
On October 9, 2023, St. Lucie County Circuit Judge Michael C. Heisey sentenced 34-years-old MICHELE LYNN DOVEL (pictured) to two years in prison for abandoning her three dogs in a hot, filthy home for weeks. One dog was sadly found deceased.
DOVEL’s release will be followed by a probation period of three years.
According to the criminal complaint obtained by Voice For Us, on July 31, 2022, a deputy with the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to a home on 334 Melton Drive in Fort Pierce in reference to an animal complaint.
Upon arrival, the deputy spoke with a neighbor. The neighbor explained that she hadn’t seen DOVEL in approximately 8 weeks and assumed she had taken her dogs with her until she heard them barking that day while she was in the backyard and decided to call 911 to request a welfare check.
The deputy reported that “the yard was overgrown and unkept as if the home had been abandoned.” He then walked to the back porch and “was immediately greeted at the rear sliding door by two extremely thin dogs whining and making sad puppy dog eyes.”
The deputy walked around the home to find a way in but all the windows were closed and the front door was locked. On one of the windows the deputy saw a handwritten sign that read: “in case of fire save the three dogs inside.” When the deputy went back to the rear porch, he gave the bottom of the door a little kick and he accidentally broke the glass.
He then safely got the two dogs out of the home. The complaint identified the dogs as Coco and Dixie.
Coco and Dixie were malnourished. Coco was so emaciated that her ribs, spine and hipbone were showing. They immediately ran toward a flowerpot and started drinking the rain water that was inside. The deputy asked the neighbor for some food and fresh water.
The deputy entered the home and saw that the thermostat read 98 degrees.
The home was covered in dog feces and there was no sign of food or water for Coco and Dixie.
The third dog could not be found.
Animal Control Officer Patterson responded to the scene and took Coco and Dixie to Midway Veterinary Hospital for treatment.
The deceased dog, identified as Lucky, was found on August 7, 2022, by Mr. Grunfeld who was asked to clean the home by the property owner.
Mr. Grunfeld found Lucky, a black and white Beagle, wrapped in a blanket in the utility room next to the kitchen by the water heater. Lucky was decomposed and mummified.
When investigators met with DOVEL, she told them that she was running from a domestic abuse situation and said: “My boyfriend threatened to kill me. The neighbor was supposed to be taking the dogs.” DOVEL, however, refused to give the neighbor’s name.
DOVEL went on to say that she was scared to go back to the residence due to her ex-boyfriend getting out of jail at the end of June or the beginning of July.
The criminal complaint stated that DOVEL “never called 911 to have a Deputy stand by at 334 Melton Drive so she could retrieve Coco and Dixie.”
According to the complaint, DOVEL “inflicted unnecessary pain and suffering to Coco and Dixie by abandoning them in a 98 degrees residence with no food, water and means to go outside to use the bathroom”.
DOVEL agreed to sign Coco and Dixie over to Animal Control.
As for Lucky, she said he had passed away a few months back and intended to cremate him but that never happened.
DOVEL was arrested on September 23, 2022.
Assistant State Attorney Robert Stone told WPTV: “Coco and Dixie were left in an abusive relationship as well. That's what bothered me the most. There were so many opportunities. It takes a second to pick up the phone and call animal control, call her brother who said he would have taken the dogs. Other people in the neighborhood said they would help her. Call police, anyone.”
WPTV reports that Coco recovered and “was adopted by an adoring dad.”
Dixie has a new family where she has another dog and a human brother to play with.
Lori Boettger with Paws Fur Recovery Dog Rescue helped arrange the adoptions.
“The dogs are in loving homes, and they've been well taken care of,” she told WPTV.
Lucky, you are in my heart with so many others Voiceless Victims.
Voice For Us Disclaimer: This story is sourced from official news outlets. Link included.
Details may be removed or additional information may be provided in future should such sources report an update.
DOVEL’s mugshot shared from the Florida Department of Corrections
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