On January 19, 2024, Raymond Leon Merricks, Jr., 44, was released upon paying a $396 bond after being charged with two misdemeanors and two felony counts of animal cruelty.
On December 12, 2023, Alachua officers responded to 15303 NW 134th Terrace in order to assist Alachua County Animal Services (ACAS) in investigating the owner of a heavily malnourished pit bull. Merricks’ neighbor confirmed the pit bulls were Merricks’ and told officers that one attacked and killed his chickens and was running around loose. ACAS captured the dog.
While observing Merricks’ residence, officers found three more dogs; however, only two were alive.
One of the living dogs was found tied to a tree stump, while the other was found in a makeshift confinement. The deceased dog was found in a similar makeshift confinement adjacent to the living dog. Officers had to pry the confinements open since they were sealed shut.
All dogs were found to be infested with fleas and covered in feces. One was described as having missing teeth and pressure sores. They all ranked between 1 and 3 on the 1–9 body condition point scale. A 2 is described as "Ribs and backbone and pelvic bones visible, but only minor loss of muscle mass. Severe waistline and tummy tuck."
After officers spoke to Merricks on the phone, he admitted the dogs were his. A warrant was issued, and he was arrested on January 18th.
Despite the State Attorney recommending a $15,000 total bond and the court originally setting a $40,000 total bond, Judge James M. Colaw granted Merricks a $99 bond for each charge, totaling $396. The condition for the bail is that Merricks does not have contact with animals and doesn't posses any firearms.
Merricks has previously been found guilty of one charge of battery, another for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, and multiple charges for possession of cocaine. Merricks previously served 4 months in jail for his battery charge and a year in jail for his gun possession charge.