Deputies: Woman charged with animal cruelty claims dog was 'having fun'

Suspect accused of repeatedly throwing dog into ocean by leash

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – A woman accused of repeatedly lifting a small dog by its leash, throwing it into the ocean then dragging it on the beach claimed the dog was "having fun," according to the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said they were called to Bethune Beach Park on Monday afternoon when a witness reported seeing a woman in a black bikini top slinging a dog around by its leash and throwing it into the ocean in water that was above its head, then picking it up by its leash and throwing it into the water again.

A deputy arrived on the scene to find Christy Hopkins, 38, clutching an approximately 5-pound black teacup Shih Tzu named Princess Molly under her right arm, according to the affidavit. The report said the dog was drenched, covered in sand, shaking, appeared to be coughing and was clearly in distress.

Hopkins told the deputy that Princess Molly was "having fun" and was never in danger because the water was not that deep, the affidavit said.

Hopkins attempted to demonstrate how she lifts the dog off the ground by its leash, but the deputy stopped her, according to the report. She said the dog's owner lives in condos nearby and she watches the animal sometimes for weeks at a time because the owner is ill, deputies said.

Hopkins was arrested on an animal cruelty charge. She has since bonded out of the Volusia County Jail.

In an interview with News 6, Hopkins said she was having a fun day at the beach with her family and the dog. 

"He (the officer) said, 'How'd she get wet?' I said, 'She jumped in the water after a bird' and he says, 'That's not true. Somebody said they saw you throwing the dog around and throwing her in the water.' If he would have let me open my phone and show him the videos, he would have seen that she did in fact run after a bird and jump into the water," Hopkins said.

She provided video of the dog on a kayak and running on the beach.

Hopkins said the dog's owner picked up Princess Molly from a local animal shelter on Tuesday.