PSL officer rescues pets after sitter jailed

Posted at 11:00 AM, Mar 07, 2016

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- He was hired to care for dogs, but police say he could have put them in danger.

Port St. Lucie police say a dog-sitter was arrested, but didn't bother to tell police there were 5 dogs and several guinea pigs alone in his home.

Police say the animals were locked inside for more than 12 hours, and their owners couldn't get them out.

Michael Nelson was arrested late last week, police say, for theft at a Walmart and possession of marijuana.

At no point during the arrest did he mention that he needed to get someone to care for the animals.

Brendan Connelly had two dogs inside Nelson's home.

Connelly says he has only lived in Port St. Lucie a couple weeks, and found Nelson on

"We used him for a couple weeks, about 7 or 8 times. He was great with the dogs. The dogs loved him," Connelly said.

Nelson only lived a few miles away and had good reviews on the website.

But now, Connelly isn't going to be leaving any positive feedback.

Connelly says he tried to pick his dogs up, but Nelson would not answer his calls or come to the door.

Another dog owner also waited with Connelly.

"We were a little concerned that maybe [Nelson] was in there and there was something wrong with him," Connelly said.

They called 911, and first responders went inside the home to check on Nelson's well-being.

"They came out and said he's not in there, but we can't let you take your dogs," Connelly said. "So, we camped out for the night in his driveway."

In the morning, when Nelson still hadn't come home, Connelly called police again. Officer Michael Conner came back to the house, and got to the bottom of Nelson's whereabouts. Looking in his computer, Conner found Nelson's booking photo had finally posted from his arrest.

"He said is this guy 5'10, brown hair? Come here… he shows us his monitor in his car and there he is. Mugshot- arrested," Connelly said.

Nelson's latest arrest adds to his rap sheet of numerous felony charges.

Eventually, Connelly said police convinced Nelson to allow them access into the home to get the dogs. "I crawled through the window, let all 5 dogs out in the back. They were very happy."

Connelly just wishes he had known about Nelson's criminal past, even though he was otherwise a good dog-sitter.

“Supposedly they vet these people, they didn’t do a very good job with him,” Connelly said. has removed Nelson's profile from their website.

We have reached out for a comment about the website's screening process for dog-sitters.

Several animals in the home were taken to animal control until their owners could claim them.