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St. Cloud man sentenced for failing to get dog’s injuries treated, leading to ‘cruel’ death

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — A Central Florida man is headed to prison for failing to properly care for his dog.

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An Osceola County jury found 35-year-old David Rhum guilty of aggravated animal cruelty last week for his actions, or lack thereof, that led to the death of his dog, Junior.

The investigation began back in October of 2022 when Osceola County deputies responded to Rhum’s home on Concord Street for reports of a dog with severe injuries.

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Deputies turned their attention to a shed at the back of the property where they found Junior, a Pitbull terrier, lying on his side and not moving.

The responding deputies noted Junior had multiple injuries to his body and head and whimpered when they tried to move him. They ultimately had to fashion a stretcher out of blanket to remove Junior from the shed.

A veterinarian later examined Junior and found deep puncture wounds to the dog’s legs and head, as well as cuts through the cartilage of his ears with large amounts of pus oozing from the wounds. The veterinarian determined that Junior was likely in shock due to an infection.

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Investigators say Junior eventually lost consciousness after suffering a seizure and the decision was made to euthanize him.

Officers with Osceola County Animal Services identified Rhum as the dog’s owner and interviewed him. Rhum told the officers that Junior had recently escaped from his property and was severely attacked by two dogs when he entered a neighbor’s property.

Rhum told deputies that weeks before that attack, Junior was also bitten by a water moccasin. Additionally, Rhum told deputies about another incident a week before the snake bite when Junior was attacked by another neighbor’s dogs.

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Investigators say Rhum failed to seek proper veterinary care for Junior after any of the incidents. Rhum claimed he called a veterinarian a day after the snake bite and “called around” to additional veterinarians after the most recent attack.

Deputies ultimately determined, and a jury agreed, that Rhum failed to act by not taking Junior to get the proper medical attention that he needed for his injuries, which led to the “unnecessary pain and suffering and cruel death” of the dog.

Rhum was found guilty after two days at trial last week. A judge then sentenced him to serve 18 months in the Florida Department of Corrections followed by 24 months of supervised probation and community control during which time he’ll be prohibited from owning any animals.

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