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Florida nurse poisoned neighbors cats, pregnant dog for going into her yard: Sheriff

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A Florida nurse has been arrested on animal cruelty charges after allegedly poisoning her neighbor's pregnant Chihuahua, two cats and eight puppies, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office (PCSO). .

Tamesha Knighten, 51, was arrested Wednesday for the death of a pet that occurred on Aug. 16, 2023. Authorities were alerted after her owner's two cats, Luna and Pancake, died within hours of each other. Her owners said the two cats were choking and unable to breathe, foaming at the mouth and showing signs of pain.

After about four hours, the owners couldn't find the pregnant Chihuahua named Daisy and began looking for her. She was found dead along with the puppies in her stomach, the sheriff's office said in a news release.

“You don't poison innocent animals unless of course you want to go to jail yourself,” Sheriff Grady Judd said at a press conference Friday.

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Tamesha Knighten, 51, was charged with three counts of felony animal cruelty. (Polk County Sheriff's Office)

The owners told investigators that Knighten repeatedly threatened to poison their pets if they came into his yard. Her owners said they noticed her outside the day the animals died.

Authorities found a white bowl with a white meat-like substance mixed with a dark-colored substance. Judd said the video showed Knighten holding the bowl in rubber gloves, and she referred to the dark-colored ingredient as a “special seasoning.” She reportedly told investigators that she left a bowl of food outside to “feed the animals in the area.”

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Pregnant Chihuahua poisoned

According to the sheriff's office, Daisy the Chihuahua was pregnant with eight puppies. (Polk County Sheriff's Office)

Judd said the reason it took so long to make an arrest in the case is because research samples had to be sent to three university labs, resulting in the animals being poisoned with a chemical called phorate. He said this was because it was discovered that he had

According to PCSO, Knighten is a certified nurse employed at United Healthcare at WellMed in Lakeland. She was charged with three counts of felony animal cruelty.

Grady Judd's Animal Abuse

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd holds a photo of suspected animal abuser Tamesha Knighten wearing rubber gloves and holding a Styrofoam bowl. (Polk County Sheriff's Office)

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“These people lost their beloved pet in the most horrific way, and she lost her freedom by going to prison,” Judd said in a statement. “It would take a ruthless person to poison two cats and a pregnant dog. It's hard to imagine how someone in the medical field could do something like that.”

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