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Theft suspect slapped with animal cruelty charge

DACULA -- A Dacula man suspected of stealing his neighbors' garbage cans is in deeper trouble after authorities serving a warrant allegedly found a malnourished Bloodhound in his care.

Neighbors on Dacula's Gregory Lane pointed police to the home of Barton Smith, 43, on Sept. 28 in reference to the missing garbage cans, which were stolen from the roadside on trash night.

An officer noted two garbage cans like the ones missing in the bed of Smith's Ford F-150. But when the officer knocked on the front door, a man fitting Smith's description slammed the door in the officer's face, according to a Gwinnett police report.

The officer took photos of the garbage cans for evidence, returned them to their owners and set off to get arrest warrants for theft by taking.

When officers returned Saturday to serve those warrants, one cop noted that Smith's dog was so emaciated "I could see every rib and hip bone through the dog's skin," the officer wrote.

Smith was arrested and his father, who owns the home, agreed to furnish his son's dog with food and water, as the animal had none. Animal Control officers called to the scene told police it was a clear case of neglect, the report states.

One Animal Control officer "said that without a doubt the dog has been willfully neglected, starved and dehydrated," the report states.

In addition to theft by taking, Smith was charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty and failure to appear. He remains jailed without bond.

The dog was transported by Animal Control officers for medical care. The stolen garbage cans are valued at $50, the report states.