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Man arrested on animal cruelty charges after 16 dogs found with foul odor in Jacksonville home

Tommie Eugene Mercer III, 20, was arrested on Sunday.
Credit: JSO

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A man was arrested on the Southside Sunday on 16 counts of animal cruelty charges, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

JSO said officers were called to a home at 8315 N. Parr Court to assist Animal Services with a search warrant for Tommie Eugene Mercer III, 20, and to remove 16 dogs from the home. Authorities said Mercer arrived at the scene while law enforcement was serving the search warrant and seizing the listed dogs.

JSO said an officer had initially arrived at the home on Sept. 24, but no one was home. He heard dogs barking from the back of the property, according to the arrest report. The officer then walked around the unsecured front yard and found one black dog in a pen, the sheriff's office said. 

He then walked to the opposite side of the property and found the dog that was in a picture provided by a complainant, the arrest report said. While standing approximately 10-12 feet away from the listed address, the officer said he smelled an odor of feces and urine coming from the property.

The odor got "increasingly worse" the closer he got to the property line, the arrest report said. When the officer got deeper on the property, he found at least eleven adult dogs in total, according to the report. 

The officer said Tommie Mercer Jr. advised Mercer was the only person who had been staying at the home. 

During a conversation between the suspect and another resident of the home, the officer asked why the dog pens were so unsanitary. 

The resident replied, "I work 55 hours per week," according to the report. 

JSO said the resident acknowledged during the conversation having custody of all the dogs for at least one year. All 16 dogs were seized and transported to Animal Care and Protective Services.

After being taken from the home, all 16 dogs went through a medical evaluation due to reported medical concerns, the report said.

The medical examiner's report found that several of the dogs had been given over-the-counter rabies vaccines, JSO said. Other medical histories of the dogs are unknown at this time, according to police. 

During the investigation, the owner told police that the dogs were primarily used for hunting, the report said. 

Based on the investigation and the condition of the dogs found in the suspect's care, the suspect was arrested on 16 counts of aggravated animal cruelty, according to police. 

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