Lakeland man accused of beating two dogs with a sledgehammer

Lakeland man accused of beating two dogs with a sledgehammer

The Polk County Sheriff is searching for a Lakeland man accused of beating two dogs with a sledgehammer.

According to the authorities, a warrant has been issued for 49-year-old Tad Whitworth's arrest on two counts of Felony Animal Cruelty.

He's was seen on Oct. 9 hitting the dogs in the head and bodies. The attack happened on Countryview Drive in Lakeland.

Donna Wood, Public Information Officer for the sheriff's office, said Whitworth was at a friends house and that she told him to get rid of the dogs.

"Obviously, this is certainly not a way to euthanize elderly pets. The Polk County Sheriff's Office Animal Control facility is certainly here to help people with that type of situation. You do not take that into your own hands with a sledgehammer," Wood said.

Whitworth's friend is the owner of the dogs.

James Coffinberry lives next door.

"I could hear the dogs belching, every time he hit," Coffinberry said.

Coffinberry said another neighbor screamed at Whitworth to stop.

"The lady was yelling stop and stop. The guy that was hitting them was saying that she (his friend) told me to do it," Coffinberry said.

The dogs are currently being treated at the Polk County Animal Control for multiple injuries. It is unclear whether and when the dogs, Bella and Tupac, will be adopted.

"This was totally uncalled for," Wood said.

Wood said the dogs have not been taken care of for a while because they had missing hair and were infested with fleas.

Deputies tell Action News Whitworth was just released from state prison and has a long extensive criminal history.  The sheriff said he has been in the Polk County Jail ten times and been to prison four times.

While authorities are searching for Whitworth, they said the investigation is not over and they plan to continue to speak with the owner of the dogs.

Whitworth is 6'3" tall and 205 lbs. with brown hair and blue eyes, and may be driving an older model white GMC truck.

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Tad Whitworth, please call PCSO at 863-298-6200.

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