Winter Haven man, Fernandez Gunter, arrested for felony animal cruelty

A Winter Haven man has been arrested for felony animal cruelty after Polk County Animal Control  found five neglected dogs, including an adult dog with skin growing around a chain.

Last Wednesday, detectives arrested 51-year-old Fernandez Gunter.


An anonymous tip on December 8, 2019 to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) Animal Control section said that a dog was injured, and several puppies appeared malnourished. Animal Control staff and the Sheriff’s Office Agricultural Crimes Unit responded to check on the dogs’ well-being over the next several days. Initially, no resident was able to be located but the property was posted for the resident to contact Animal Control. No one from the home contacted Animal Control. Continued follow-up led to an agricultural crimes detective locating the injured adult female dog that had an embedded collar, three live puppies, and a dead puppy. 

Detectives noted that the dogs were flea-infested and that there was no food or water available to the dogs. The dogs were surrendered to animal control and taken to the animal shelter. 

Due to the adult dog’s skin growing around the chain, surgery was required to remove the chain. 

Of the three live puppies brought to Animal Control, one had to be euthanized. The remaining two have been adopted out. The adult dog will be available for adoption after it fully recovers. 

Detectives determined that Gunter failed to act and provide necessary care by seeking treatment for the adult dog’s injury and infection, which resulted in excessive and repeated pain and suffering. 

Gunter’s prior criminal history consists of 10 felonies and 9 misdemeanors, including charges for: Carrying a Concealed Weapon, Grand Theft Motor Vehicle, Cocaine Possession (6), Possession of Alprazolam, Resisting, Marijuana Possession (2), Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (2), Keeping Shop for Drugs, and Driving While License Suspended/Revoked (3). 

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