Lehigh man charged in animal cruelty case
A Lehigh Acres man has been charged in connection with the starvation of two dogs left in his care.
Kevin James Gdowik, 41, of 2808 West 23rd Street, was arrested Thursday morning on two counts each of cruelty and unlawful confinement to animals.
The investigation began when Lee County Domestic Animal Services received multiple complaints in late January. An officer responded to Gdowik’s home and inspected three dogs. Two were identified as belonging to Gdowik, the third a friend’s. His two dogs were healthy and clean, whereas the third, named Oreo, was emaciated, had a skin condition over 50 percent of its body, was covered in fleas and had an oozing, quarter-sized wound on its right leg, officials said.
Oreo was taken by the officer to get treated by a vetrinarian. Gdowik was issued seven citations for various violations.
Further inquiry by the officer revealed Gdowik had agreed to care for Oreo and a second dog named Hershey after the friend moved out. The pets had been living alone with him for several months.
Hershey had reportedly died.
Due to the circumstances, Lee County Domestic Animal Services notified the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and a detective was assigned to conduct a criminal investigation beginning in February. As the case moved forward, on March 8, the remains of Hershey were recovered from an empty lot next to Gdowik’s residence, where the dog had been buried.
Statements from witnesses and a vetrinary pathologist confirmed both dogs had been starved and abandoned, officials said, adding Gdowik had provided necessary care to his own animals, but did not feed or provide sufficient exercise and required care for Oreo and Hershey.
The starvation and associated health problems resulting in death to Hershey, and pain and suffering to Oreo, were consistent with criminal acts under Florida law, officials added.
Gdowik was taken to the Lee County Jail where he was held Thursday afternoon pending first appearance.
Oreo was recently adopted.
Source: Lee County Sheriff’s Office