Cape Coral police file for ownership of arrested man’s animals

Reporter: Zach Oliveri Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
Gracie, a 13-year-old female hound mix owned by Eric Belanger, who is accused of starving her. Credit: Cape Coral Police Department

The Cape Coral Police Department has filed to take ownership of animals that belonged to a man accused of abusing them.

According to court documents, CCPD filed for the ownership of 12 animals owned by Eric Belanger, 49, who was arrested on Friday and is accused of starving the animals. The filing is specifically to prevent the previous owners from maintaining ownership of the animals. The animals include seven dogs (five of which were found to be emaciated), two tortoises, two iguanas and a guinea pig.

CCPD’s court filing included pictures of several of the dogs, who were inspected by Lee County Domestic Animal Services and largely found to be undernourished and slightly fearful during their examinations.

CCPD says the tortoises were found without access to fresh food or water and in housing unsuitable for their species. The iguanas and the guinea pig were found in dirty enclosures filled with feces.

Someone living in the home said Belanger rescued the dogs, but then failed to care for them properly.

The person in the home said they told Belanger to take care of the animals properly or they would have them taken away, but Belanger threatened to kill whoever had the animals taken, according to the arrest report.

“It’s horrible, absolutely horrible,” said Pascha Donaldson, president of the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife. “Dogs won’t poop where they stay. But when they’re desperate, they’re desperate.”

That’s why Cape Coral police want to strip Belanger of any right to own these animals or any more animals ever again.

That’s why they filed an emergency petition to make sure that happens.

While that is all sorted out all the animals are with Lee County Domestic Animal Services.

Donaldson said the dogs have a long road to recovery.

“You really have to be committed because it’s a 24-hour job to get that dog back​,” Donaldson said. “Same with a child. I go back to children. Abused children, they don’t heal overnight just because you’ve given them a hug or a good warm meal. It’s a mental attitude that needs to change.”

In addition to possibly losing his animals, Belanger faces eight counts of animal cruelty.

The vet at Lee County Domestic Animal Services said the housing situation was consistent with animal cruelty. And the animals lacked nutrition, resulting in unnecessary suffering.

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