Animal enforcement officer hit with car while serving citation

Deputies say Chihuahua was left in hot SUV

Photo by Florida Today
Photo by Florida Today

MELBOURNE, Fla. – A Brevard County animal enforcement officer was not seriously hurt Wednesday when authorities say a Melbourne woman hit her in the leg with a car while refusing a cruelty citation.

Two animal enforcement officers responded before noon to a call about a dog left inside a black Toyota 4Runner sport utility vehicle parked at the Melbourne Square Mall, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

The vehicle's windows were up, and the officers determined the temperature inside was 118 degrees Fahrenheit, endangering the mixed breed Chihuahua, according the Brevard County Sheriff's Office.

The woman driver who returned to the car with teenage children refused to sign a cruelty citation that carried a fine, then left the scene.

"When they backed out, they struck one of the animal enforcement officers in the leg," said Tod Goodyear, a spokesman for the sheriff's office, which runs animal enforcement. "She hit her, then evaded her, then took off."

The officer, Laci Applegate, suffered minor injuries that did not require treatment.

West Melbourne police officers spotted the suspect's SUV in the parking lot of Toys "R" Us on U.S. 192.

The Brevard County Sheriff's Office charged La Tisha Martin, 43, of Melbourne, with aggravated battery and refusing to sign an animal enforcement citation.

Instead of only receiving a fine from the citation, she was booked on the felony battery charge at the Brevard County Jail on a bond of $15,500.

Contact Dean at 321-242-3668 or jdean@floridatoday.com. And follow on Twitter at @flatoday_jdeanand on Facebook at facebook.com/jamesdeanspace.