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Updated: 4 min 5 sec ago

Lakeland to studying traffic after swans get hit

Mon, 09/24/2018 - 4:36pm

LAKELAND, Fla. — The City of Lakeland is on a mission to save its swans. 

Monday experts began a two-week traffic study to look into what exactly is causing so many swans to be hit and what could improve Lake Morton Drive. 

In the past month, seven swans have been hit, five killed as well as a pedestrian hit and severely injured according to the city. 

Ducks and other waterfowl are also known to be hit on a consistent basis. 

“Ohhh, it’s heartbreaking,” Sandra Cash, a visitor to Lakeland said. She says the area is unlike anything she’s seen. We caught her feeding the birds while out for a walk. 

Cash brought up a valid point, suggesting not everyone knows about the bird population on the lake, especially if they are not from the area. 

“How many signs do you have out here that says swan crossing?” Cash asked. 

Driving around Lake Morton, ABC Action News only saw one sign for birds crossing.

Cash suggested more signs for the area. 

“It’s a lot of traffic, and with a lot of the swans crossing the road it holds up a lot of traffic,” Rashonda Fields, a Lakeland resident said. 

Neighbors and residents who come to the lake often think between speed, distracted driving and the number of birds, it’s surprising this trend hasn’t happened before.  

The city says since the swans have been at Lake Morton, roughly 70 years, there hasn’t been this many birds hit and killed. 

“It’s sad, it’s a sad sad thing,” Fields said.

So far, the city says about 4,600 cars drive through the area per day.

Hundreds of ducks, swans, and other birds tend to wander in and out of the road.

Experts say most of the incidents are surfacing on the West side of the Lake and seem to happen most often when cars are turning right onto Lake Morton Drive.

“As we look at traffic patterns we are going to try to figure out what we can do to implement various techniques so drivers have to pay more attention,” Kevin Cook, with the City of Lakeland, said.

The study is expected to last about two weeks. The city says between additional crosswalks, colored concrete and LED lights, they are looking at unique ideas to help improve traffic that will both last a long time and be cost effective.

“We’ve got to figure out a way to save the birds,” Cash said.

The City of Lakeland wants your thoughts on what we can do to enhance the safety and mobility for all roadway users on Lake Morton Drive. A website and survey have been developed so users can learn about the issue, study suggested safety enhancements and share opinions on possible solutions. Visit to take the survey and share feedback. The survey will be open now through Monday, October 8.

Chihuahua found in Polk dumpster, woman arrested

Mon, 09/24/2018 - 11:28am

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — A woman was arrested in Polk County after her Chihuahua was found in a Winter Haven dumpster.

On Saturday, deputies responded to an animal cruelty investigation at 4073 Mahogany Run in Winter Haven. Two people in the area heard a noise they said sounded like a dog coming from a dumpster behind an apartment complex.

One of them dove in and pulled out a sealed trash bag with a brindled colored Chihuahua wearing a pink collar inside.

Animal control found a microchip implant on the dog that was registered to 41-year-old Shawkimo Anderson.

When asked by deputies, she said she gave her dog "Diamond" to someone two months ago. However, she later changed that story and admitted to sealing the dog in a trash bag and putting it in the dumpster. She said she did it because she could no longer afford to care for Diamond, whom she had for four years.

Anderson was arrested and charged with aggravated animal cruelty. She was released from jail on a $1,000 bond.  The dog later died and a necropsy will be done to determine the exact cause of death. 

"I don't know how anyone could do this to a pet," Sheriff Grady Judd said. "This woman stuffed an innocent creature into a bag and left it to die when all she had to do was give it to someone or surrender it to Animal Control, no questions asked. Because of her selfish action, the dog has now passed away. I commend the people who did their best to try and save her."