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Carrabelle man claims he abandoned puppies to save them

A Carrabelle man arrested for abandoning seven mixed-breed
pit bull terriers in the county said he dropped them off because he knew they
would likely be picked up and later adopted.

Following the discovery of six puppies dropped off in a
cardboard box July 21 at 300 Ocean Mile on St. George Island, and a
seventh dropped off July 27 at the Ho-Hum RV Park just west of Lanark Village,
an investigation by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office led to the arrest Wednesday
morning, July 28 of Jared Willett, 26, of Carrabelle, on seven counts of animal
cruelty – abandonment, a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year
in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

A report by Lt. Baron Cortopassi indicated the sheriff’s
office became aware of the incidents on July 27, after it was reported
that a white male, driving a dark green Toyota RAV4 slowly through the Ho-Hum
park at 2132 U.S. 98, had dropped a small tan-and-white bull terrier puppy
through the open driver’s side door and then driven away without stopping.
Video cameras in the park were able to confirm what had happened, read the

After the abandoned puppy was taken to the Franklin County
Humane Society, staff identified it as being from the same litter as six others
brought to the facility after they were dropped off July 21 in a cardboard box
at 300 Ocean Mile, and taken to the animal shelter by a person from Tennessee,
who then adopted one of those six.

After posting an appeal on social media, the sheriff’s
office received multiple tips that Willett  was who dropped the puppy off at Ho Hum, and that both he and his vehicle could be found at a location in Carrabelle.

On July 29, Cortopassi traveled to the location, where he saw
a vehicle in the driveway matching the one in the Ho-Hum video. He also noticed
the vehicle’s Florida license plate was an “Animal Friendly” specialty plate.

“Also observed outside of the residence was a large dog
kennel and a male pit terrier,” read the report.

 The report said
Willett was “cooperative and admitted to offenses.

“Mr. Willett advised that he breeds pit bull terriers and
that this litter was an accidental mix breed,” read the report. “Killing the
litter was not an option, and there was a fee to drop them off at the Humane
Society, so he dropped the puppies off at locations where they were likely to
be adopted.”

Karen Martin, who directs the animal shelter, said the humane
society does not charge a surrender fee. “We certainly don’t have dogs
euthanized due to breed,” she said. “On any given day, you will find pit and
pit mixes available for adoption at the Adoption Center.”

Cortopassi took photos of two other adult dogs, which
included the mother of the litter inside the residence, as well as of the puppies
at the humane society. He said all of the remaining puppies had either been
adopted, or claimed for adoption.

Willette was released on his own recognizance, granted a
public defender and is scheduled to appear in court next on Thursday morning,
Sept. 2.

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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