BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – A former dog groomer who violently abused a service dog during a grooming appointment in 2019 was sentenced Monday to 180 days in jail and ordered to pay more than $5,000 in restitution.
James Suthann was in court more than two years after the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office released video showing what Sheriff Wayne Ivey said was one of the worst acts of animal cruelty he had ever seen.
Suthann will be on three years of probation after serving his 180-day sentence, but he avoids a felony conviction. He entered a plea of no contest to one count of cruelty to animals, death pain or suffering.
The state was seeking a year in jail, but Judge Charles Crawford presented Suthann two options: 60 days in jail with a felony conviction or 180 days in jail with an offer to withhold adjudication. Suthann chose the latter and was also ordered to pay $5,278.61 in restitution. He is also barred from owning or working with animals during his probation.
“It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that dog did not want his tail manhandled, so to speak,” Crawford said.
Satellite Beach disabled veteran Rick McGuire, who owns the dog, a German shepherd named TT, said he’s happy with the sentence.
“You don’t want to see your dog get hurt. You don’t want to see anybody get hurt,” McGuire said. “I believe finally now there’s some justice.”
McGuire said TT still has issues from the incident. The dog’s tail had to be amputated as the result of the injury.
“The part now is her hips and her tail, or where her tail was, is all arthritis now,” he said. “She doesn’t have a voice. I am her voice. The videotape is her voice today.”
Ivey said in 2019 that he would go after animal abusers.
“If you hurt an animal in our community, you’re going to jail, and if I can, I’m going to be the one who walks you in. There is absolutely no need for what happened,” Ivey said.
Investigators said the incident happened at Groomingdale’s Pet Spa on Feb. 6, 2019. Deputies said Suthann was bathing TT and became angry when the dog wouldn’t stand still. They said he grabbed her tail as she rolled over and it was still in his hand and he broke it.
McGuire said then that TT was seriously affected by the incident.
“When we got her back home, she wouldn’t come to us. She wouldn’t do anything, so we went to the emergency hospital and they told us the bad news. It was just horrible,” McGuire said.
McGuire said TT recovered from her surgery.
“She’s able to run around and not have the cone of shame on her head that she’s going everywhere with,” he said.