Groomer abused service dog, broke off its tail, deputies say

Abuse 'one of most difficult things I've had to watch,' Sheriff Wayne Ivey says

By Dawn Jorgenson - Graham Media Group

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - A man was arrested Monday after deputies said he violently abused a service dog during a grooming appointment Feb. 6.

Officials with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office said James Cordell Doughty Suthann, who was working at a local grooming salon, became angry when an 8-year-old German shepherd service dog named TT would not stand still.

Deputies said a video shows Suthann cinch TT’s head down so tightly that she could no longer move. Later in the video, Suthann grabs the dog’s tail and lifts her off the ground, causing her tail to be twisted and broken off. Deputies said it could not be reattached.

Deputies said that at the end of the video, Suthann is seen hitting TT in the back of the head with the nozzle of a hose he was using to bathe her.

"He hits her in the head with the water nozzle at the end of it, had the audacity to do that, as if enough punishment hadn't been inflicted on this animal," Sheriff Wayne Ivey said.

Officials said the video of the abuse is so graphic that they decided not to post it.

“That is one of the most difficult things I have ever had to watch in my 39 years of law enforcement, because of the horrific and cruel way the pet was treated,” Ivey said.

According to Ivey, Suthann showed no remorse for hurting the animal.

TT’s owner Rick McGuire, a disabled veteran who has post-traumatic stress disorder, was devastated by the abuse to his dog. He said TT had emergency surgery to amputate her tail and is in the process of recovering. She recently had her stitches removed.

"I don't think she really misses (her tail), as far as I can tell, but I really don't know what's in her head," McGuire said.

McGuire said he immediately knew something was wrong when he picked up TT and she wouldn't sit or lie down, but it wasn't until Monday that he saw the video and the full extent of the abuse.

"It was a horrible, horrible thing to watch," McGuire said.

Suthann was arrested Monday on suspicion of felony cruelty to animals. He was taken to Brevard County Jail.

“Unfortunately, the maximum bond that could be placed on Suthann was $2,000 because they don’t let me personally set the bond amounts for criminals like this guy,” Ivey said.

Ivey added that the owners of the grooming facility, which he did not name, had no knowledge that Suthann was capable of the abuse. They have been cooperative with the investigation and willingly provided the video, which was paramount in making an arrest in the case.

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