The owners of two dogs that were captured Friday after preventing a woman from leaving her car were charged a total of $210 after the incident – $55 citations for each dog “at large,” and a $100 shelter fee.
“One’s a pit bull and one is a shar pei-pit bull mix,” said Kathy Beatson, interim director of Brevard County Animal Services and Enforcement. The dogs were described by Palm Bay police as pit bulls that were acting aggressively.
The owners, Candice Hummel and her fiancé, came to get the dogs the same day they were caught, Florida Today reports.
“They’re really friendly dogs,” Hummel said. “I don’t believe they’re aggressive in any way.”
Hummel said Roman, the brown dog, is a pit bull mix, and that Remi, the grey dog, is a shar pei mix. She said she didn’t know if Remi had pit-bull blood, as she is an adopted dog.
Hummel said she did not think the dogs were treated humanely – a video shows an animal services officer using a noose at the end of a staff to grab their necks and move the dogs into cages in a truck. She said this burst the blood vessels in one animal’s eyes. As part of backing up this claim, Hummel provided a photo that showed one dog’s bloodshot eye.
Chief Doug Muldoon of Palm Bay Police said in an email response to a citizen complaint that the dogs were “aggressively roaming the neighborhood…” for the second time in two days.
“We have had several aggressive dogs attack or threaten citizens and police officers,” he wrote. “In a recent case, significant damage was inflicted to an officer when the aggressive dog attacked the officer attempting to intervene in a similar situation as this one. This damage required surgery for our officer.”
“I can tell you we are there to serve and protect and that includes our officers protecting themselves from being attacked,” he wrote.
Beatson said aggressive behavior can vary – sometimes dogs will snarl or bare their teeth.
“A lot of them don’t act aggressive at all and all of the sudden they’re right on you,” Beatson said.
Palm Bay police were the first to arrive on-scene that morning. They later called for help from animal services.
“Obviously in this case, the police felt there was a big concern,” Beatson said.
Beatson said animal services officers have to take precautions when dealing with dogs they don’t know.
“Animals may be fine with the owners, but we don’t have any way of knowing that,” she said. “You can’t take a risk that someone’s going to get injured.”
Hummel said an officer used pepper spray on the dogs during the encounter, and that the dogs weren’t washed off when they got to the shelter. Beatson said hosing the dogs off would have made the pepper spray worse.