Central Florida man arrested for malnourished dogs said he hasn't bought dog food in 5 weeks: deputies

A Central Florida man was arrested this week after his dogs were found malnourished with bones protruding and without food or water in extreme heat conditions, according to the Volusia Sheriff's Office. 

Zachary Cain was arrested Tuesday and charged with three felony counts of animal cruelty and three misdemeanor counts of unlawful confinement/abandonment of animals without sufficient food or water, deputies said. 

Volusia Sheriff's Office deputies responded to Cain's home in Deltona on Tuesday evening when Animal Control requested assistance. Animal Control was at the house earlier in the day to assist after two of Cain's dogs – Dolly and Buttercup – escaped their pen. 

This wasn't the first time Animal Control officers responded to Cain's house for a dog escaping, but this time, the officers noticed the dogs' physical conditions were worse than in the past, according to the Volusia Sheriff's Office. 

Officials noticed Dolly and Buttercup were underweight and the latter's hip bones and shoulder blades were protruding, as seen in bodycam video shared by the sheriff's office. 


Photo: Volusia Sheriff's Office

"No fat or muscle definition whatsoever," a deputy can be heard saying on the bodycam footage about one of the dogs. 

"She's at least got some meat left to her," an officer said about the other dog. "It's still not OK."


Photo: Volusia Sheriff's Office

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Deputies: Man said he hasn't purchased dog food in about 5 weeks

The deputy asked Cain when the last time he fed the dogs was and he said about two or three days ago, adding that he hadn't bought dog food in about five weeks due to financial constraints, deputies said. 

"You do realize that you can surrender your dogs? You can let Animal Control know you can't take care of your dogs when you have three kids," a deputy told Cain, who affirmatively responded to her. "You do realize that when it comes to dogs, especially outside in this heat … dogs also need to eat, too. I saw your dogs."

Cain interrupted, saying his dogs were "small."

"Yeah, but they're not small because they're meant to be small," the deputy said. 

Cain replied, "No, they're small because they're malnourished. I'm aware." 

"I could tell from the moment I got here that you knew why we were out here," the deputy said as Cain nodded. "So whatever animals you have that you're not able to properly care of, you should surrender, because like I said, it's not fair to them."


Photo: Volusia Sheriff's Office

Third dog found with no water in enclosure, deputies say

As the deputies investigated the house, they found an additional dog, Joker, whose enclosure had empty and dry water bowls. A deputy found a hose to give Joker some water. 

Deputies noted that temperatures in Deltona over the past few days reached as high as 99 degrees with a heat index as high as 108 degrees. 

Cain was arrested and taken to the Volusia County Branch Jail, where he posted $9,000 bond shortly after being booked, deputies said. 

His three dogs – Dolly, Buttercup and Joker – were taken in by Animal Control and are now receiving appropriate care, deputies said. They will be receiving a full evaluation. 


Zachary Cain was arrested and booked on three felony counts of animal cruelty and three misdemeanor counts of unlawful confinement/abandonment of animals without sufficient food or water. (Photo: Volusia Sheriff's Office)

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Deputies ensured health of 3 children at house

Deputies also walked through Cain's home to make sure his three children were getting proper nutrition and care. 

"Plenty of food was observed in the pantry and refrigerator. Pizza was also delivered to the house while deputies were on scene," the Volusia Sheriff's Office said. 

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Woman shoos deputy after he brought family dog food, calls him 's***** cop'

After deputies and Animal Control left Cain's house, a Volusia Sheriff's Deputy returned to the home to drop off a bag of dog food. Cain's partner shooed him away, calling him a "s***** cop" as her daughter watches from the doorway. 

"I just brought you guys food for the dog and now I'm a s***** cop?" the deputy is heard telling the woman on the bodycam footage before walking away. 

The woman and the deputy went back and forth after the woman accused the deputy and other responding officials of "the way you're talking about my husband and the way y'all have been talking about my children."

She maintained that the incident had nothing to do with her children. 

"So someone understands that you guys are going through a difficult time, like your husband explained," the deputy said. 

"Yes, but we don't have to have this conversation," the woman replied. 

"I don't have to be told to children that I'm a s***** cop for bringing you food," he said in response. 

The deputy then addressed the bag of food, saying that it was for the dog and solely for the dog. 

"Oh s***, I can't feed that to my kids?" the woman said sarcastically. 

"I hope you guys give up the dogs as soon as possible," the deputy replied.

What to do if you're unable to provide your pets with proper care

The Volusia Sheriff's Office encourages anyone who is unable to provide their animals with proper nutrition, care or shelter to contact Animal Control, Animal Services or a reputable rescue organization to surrender their animals.