A Florida couple who own a 4-year old black Labrador Retriever named Molly have spoken to the media after capturing a shocking crime on camera. Mark and Jessica Fitzpatrick, who live in Oceanway, a neighborhood of Jacksonville, told journalists that they grew concerned when Molly exhibited unusual behavior.
“We’ve had Molly since she was a puppy,” said Mark, “and she has always been the most gentle, sweetest dog you’ll ever meet. Always so full of energy and excited to interact with anyone she meets.”
However, as Mark explained, a few months ago Molly’s pleasant disposition changed almost overnight. “It was so strange, instead of her usual, playful self, Molly would run away and hide in her kennel instead of coming to greet us when we got home. We thought she might have been sick, so we took her to the vet twice, but they couldn’t find anything wrong with her.”
Concerned, the Fitzpatricks turned to the internet for advice, posting on a number of dog owner forums. “We didn’t have much luck,” said Jessica, “but one user posted to say we should set up a camera in our backyard so we could check to see what Molly did while we were out at work.” With nothing to lose, the couple purchased a cheap webcam that connected to their home WiFi network and mounted it to give them a clear view of their yard, and Molly’s kennel.
“For the first few days, we would check the camera periodically while we were at work, but we didn’t see anything unusual,” said Mark. However, the following week, the camera would capture a terrible crime and reveal the reason behind Molly’s abrupt change in behavior. “I’d just got back from my lunch break and brought up the camera feed on my laptop,” said Jessica. “Immediately I was surprised to see our neighbor standing in our yard.”
Jessica quickly called Mark, who also logged into the webcam from his office. “At first I thought it was something innocent,” he told reporters. “Maybe one of his kids had thrown a ball over the fence, and he was just trying to retrieve it.” However, there would be no innocent explanation for the man’s presence in the yard. “I saw [our neighbor] reach into Molly’s kennel and forcefully pull her out,” said Mark, who was too overcome with emotion to describe what happened next.
The Fitzpatricks turned the footage over to a privately-run animal cruelty prevention group, who made a statement to the press that revealed the full extent of the neighbor’s crime. “In the video, [the neighbor] is seen to pull the dog from the kennel, and then pin her to the ground before penetrating her and engaging in intercourse.” One member of the anti-cruelty group group, who saw the footage, described it as ‘harrowing and confronting… one of the worst cases of animal abuse I have ever seen’.
A full investigation is currently underway into the neighbor’s misconduct, but for the moment the Fitzpatricks have temporarily moved to Mark’s parents’ house, far away from their Oceanway residence where Molly was abused. “It will take her a lot of time to regain her trust in people,” said Jessica. “I am just grateful that we installed the webcam and found out what was going on. I can’t bear to think if we hadn’t found out for another few months – or even years – how much pain Molly would have had to endure.”
The anti-cruelty group involved in the investigation has appealed for dog owners across the country to monitor their pet’s behavior for any signs of sudden, unexplained changes. “In the case of Molly, the behavior change observed by her owners was directly linked to the despicable crimes committed by their neighbor. Unfortunately, dogs can be victims of all types of abuse without their owner’s knowledge. It is important to remain vigilant, and to always be on the lookout for any tell-tale signs that your pet has suffered abuse, such as becoming distant, or unusually aggressive behavior”.