The two men who lived at the Winter Garden property and cared for the dogs - Raymond Williams and Bruceness Tatum- were arrested and charged with animal cruelty, Lourdes Clayton, a public information officer with OCSO, told The Dodo. They both remain in jail.
For now, the dogs are in the care of Williams' girlfriend, Elisha Gilbert, who spoke with WESH news on August 20. "I make sure they have food and stuff. And I make sure they have water," Gilbert told WESH.
The dogs are being observed by OCAS, which told The Dodo in a statement that it has revisited the property nine times since the initial trip on July 23, "to monitor the health of the animals and ensure the owner [Williams] has complied with Animal Services' mandates, which he has. Regression on these mandates will result in Animal Services taking additional, appropriate action." Those "mandates" included kennel repairs, ensuring kennels are free of feces and that the dogs have access to food and water, according to OCAS notes.
OCAS says it "will continue to monitor the pets at this residence in partnership with the Orange County Sheriff's Office [OCSO], which is the agency that can pursue criminal charges."
Animal cruelty: in Florida and beyond
Chris Schindler, senior manager of animal fighting investigations for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), has been working on dogfighting cases in the field for nearly 20 years. It's unclear if the Winter Garden case involves dogfighting, but Schindler notes that around the nation, backyard dogfighting rings are not uncommon.
"People who are involved in dogfighting live in every part of the country, in every county, in every state. And neighbors aren't always aware of what is going on," he says.
Referring to another dogfighting case in Jacksonville, Florida, Schindler says, "The [ringleader's] house was on the corner of a neighborhood street, surrounded by homes that people drove by every day."
Eighteen dogs were discovered at that property where dogfighting had likely been going on for decades, he says.