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Florida Sheriff Killing Pit Bulls In Defiance Of State Law

March 15, 2012
by

Dante Alighieri | Wikimedia Commons

Pit Sisters Rescue is asking animal advocates to sign the petition they have started on change.org. The petition appeals to Putnam County officials to change their policy of breed discrimination.

Source : Pet Pardons News

Putnam County Florida will hold a stray dog for five days to give an owner time to reclaim it. After that, animals are put up for adoption or euthanized for room; except in the case of Pit Bulls, which are automatically euthanized. The Putnam County Sheriff’s Department posted a note on their Facebook page last night defending their policy of not allowing Pit Bulls to be adopted out of their shelter. However, their policy is in direct opposition to Florida statute 767.14.

The Florida statute clearly states that communities are permitted to make their own regulations regarding problem dogs, but just as clearly states that those regulations cannot be based on breed. For instance, if a dog has a history of being aggressive, the county may impose fines or restrictions such as requiring the dog to be confined. The county cannot, however, make the blanket decision to discriminate against a breed of dog. Such discrimination is termed BSL (Breed Specific Legislation), and it is prohibited by Florida law.

James Cueva, an attorney for the Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation said that Putnam County is in violation of the state statute and is operating outside of state law.

Jen Watson, with Pit Sisters Rescue in Jacksonville, discovered Putnam County’s policy when she called their animal control to pull a Pit Bull for her rescue. Watson was told that Pit Bulls at the facility are not adopted out. When Watson commented “That has to change.” She was told by a Putnam official that it would never change.

This means that any Pit Bull taken into Putnam County Animal Control is euthanized after the five day stray hold without ever being made available for public adoption or rescue. When an employee there was asked how it’s decided which dogs are bully breeds, she referred the question to the Sheriff’s Department, where the buck was passed from one official to another, until someone at the Putnam Sheriff’s Department finally provided this explanation via email:

We deem dogs which are obviously, to any reasonable person who may see them, Pit Bull terriers.

That method might work if the average reasonable person could actually identify a Pit Bull. However, the website pitbullsontheweb.com demonstrates just how difficult that can be. The mis-identification of breeds is one of the saddest results of breed specific legislation, and the best argument for discontinuing breed discrimination.

The Putnam County facility uses the cruel heartstick method of killing dogs and cats.

An error at the facility recently allowed one particularly docile Pit Bull to squeak through the system and be pulled by a rescue group. The rescue placed the dog in a foster home, but a few days later the Sheriff of Putnam, Jeff Hardy, demanded that the dog be returned to the county shelter.

The rescue set up a meeting with Sheriff Hardy, but when he was a no-show they refused to return the dog. The consequences were devastating. According to one advocate more than 17 bully breed dogs were euthanized on Friday in what may have been a retaliation and show of force. The Sheriff’s department would not verify that number and will only admit to killing five Pit Bulls that day, but 21 dogs that were photographed on Thursday, March 8th were missing from the shelter on Monday, March 12. An inside source said that seventeen of them had been euthanized and four were unaccounted for.

Putnam told rescues and advocates today that they would not allow any more photos to be taken of the bully breeds at the facility, and they have quarantined those dogs to an area that they have covered with a tarp. Rescuers are now restricted from seeing how many dogs are being held, and worry that the dogs under the tarp are not receiving proper ventilation under the Florida sun.

Pit Sisters Rescue is asking animal advocates to sign the petition they have started on change.org. The petition appeals to Putnam County officials to change their policy of breed discrimination.

About the author: Ariel Wulff is an author, artist and animal advocate. She has worked in animal rescue for more than 24 years, authoring the book Born Without a Tail, a memoir of her experiences with rescued animals. She writes a column as the Cleveland Pets Examiner, and is the National Animal Books Examiner. She also maintains a personal blog about dogs: Up on the Woof, and uses her yelodoggie art to spread the joy of living with dogs.


17 Comments leave one →
  1. karenlyonskalmenson permalink
    March 15, 2012 5:03 pm

    decades ago the human race
    vilified one of its own,
    almost obliterating them
    from earthspace.
    and over the years,
    others have done the same.
    they did not like the color,
    they did not like the name.
    so now in this mean spirit
    of ignorance and distrust
    a breed of dog is
    condemned to be dust?

    Like

  2. Deb Sanford permalink
    March 16, 2012 6:47 am

    I don’t understand why you are “asking” them to change their policy. They are breaking the law by killing these dogs, they need to be prosecuted, and the Sheriff removed from his position and charged.

    Like

  3. Kelly Lashley permalink
    March 16, 2012 9:04 am

    Absolutely pathetic. I am a nurse, wife of a Delta Airlines Pilot, mother of four–and a Pit Bull advocate. I have a rescued Pit Bull/Amstaff mix. I also have a parrot, two cats, a rescue lab mix, and a Boston Terrier. Your “policy” is unlawful and disgusting. I am curious as to the judgement of the “Sheriff” or anyone in law enforcement in that area. Your “policy” will never change? How backwards and stupid are you? Do you realize how many dogs–that look like Pit Bulls are killed for that reason alone?? Do you realize how difficult it is to pick out a Pit Bull anymore?? Maybe you need to tackle the problem of people not spaying/neutering, and keeping or taking care of their pets in your area instead of basically murdering them. The “Sheriff” elect needs to be removed and people need to be prosecuted for the law they are breaking.

    Like

    • March 20, 2012 10:42 am

      I suspect that nobody really cares, which is awful and somewhat surprising, You’d think that there would be at least one person who could do something, yet nobody wants to go up against a sheriff I guess. Thanks for your comments, Kelly, you are absolutely correct about the sheriff needing removal.

      Like

  4. Tracy permalink
    March 17, 2012 11:25 am

    Why kill animals. What is wrong with the world. Please show you are human and stop this cruelty.

    Like

  5. charlotte vines permalink
    March 17, 2012 12:04 pm

    i think this is just so awfull

    and cruel…

    Like

  6. March 19, 2012 8:21 pm

    You would have to know Putnam County to understand why this is happening. The number of abused and discarded animals is huge. It is very easy to randomly site the Pit Bull as a quick decision for euthanizing – I wonder how the employees handle this but they do not seem to care. It’s a job. The Sheriff obviously feels some sort of entitlement to construct the laws as he sees fit. This too is not unusual for this county. Cross that bridge over the St. Johns River and you will step back 50 years in time. Putnam is the 3rd poorest county in the state – rife with drugs and guns. I have two Pit Bulls and am so glad that people outside the state brought this situation forward. I’m from NYC – and am quickly dismissed. good luck with the petition – I’ve sent it around on FB.

    Like

    • March 20, 2012 10:40 am

      Thank you so much for your help and input, Sandra, I am sorry for all the troubles there and that you are easily dismissed – you aren’t here, though! Thanks.

      Like

      • March 20, 2012 12:17 pm

        Thanks, Stacey. Good to know I’ve found a VOICE out there! I know a lot of people here in the county and am going to launch a campaign against this horror – I’ll also make a trip to Tallahassee – I contacted the Governor’s office today and gave them the scoop, sent a press release to the local papers, stopped by my vet’s office, and called Sheriff Hardy – who wouldn’t take my call. I’ll keep you posted – again, thanks for the kind words.

        Like

      • March 20, 2012 2:23 pm

        Wow, thank you so much, you totally rock! I know how hard it can be to feel alone when involved in a campaign, and how many walls you knock up against, but we’re with you, let us know how we can help. If you need anything published, let me know, I’ll get it up asap. Thank you, Sandra!

        Like

  7. March 20, 2012 3:48 pm

    Just sent out a copy of the petition to the press in 3 counties – St. Johns, Alachua & Putnam. Just a byline at the top of the page telling those not seeing this on FB that it has had over 700,000 Tweets & re-Tweets as well as FB coverage. My foundation is global (Antarctica) so we cover a wide reach of people. Might as well let them Putnam County know that they “suck” to the world. LOL

    Like

  8. March 28, 2012 8:36 am

    WELL IT APPEARS OUR FRIENDS AT THE PUTNAM SHERIFF’S OFFICE HAVE NOT LEARNED A THING – THE WHOLE NEGOTIATION WAS A SMOKESCREEN THEY HAVE NO INTENTION OF ALLOWING US TO HELP THEIR ANIMALS…

    OUR PHOTOGRAPHER WAS TOLD SHE MUST MAKE AN APPOINTMENT TO TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS. SO SHE MADE THE APPOINTMENT, AND WHEN SHE ARRIVED, SHE WAS REFUSED ENTRY AND TOLD THAT THE NEW PUTNAM POLICY WAS “NO PHOTOS” – WHICH MAKES IT IMPOSSIBLE, OF COURSE, TO NETWORK THE ANIMALS. THIS SHELTER IS IN RURAL FLORIDA, BEHIND A LANDFILL…THEY ARE NOT GOING TO SAVE THEIR ANIMALS BASED ON FOOT TRAFFIC…PLEASE, WE NEED YOU ALL AGAIN – PLEASE WRITE A POLITE EMAIL AND SEND IT TO THE FOLLOWING or CALL THE FOLLOWING PHONE NUMBERS TO POLITELY EXPRESS OUTRAGE. LET’S SHUT DOWN THESE SWITCHBOARDS AND FILL UP EMAIL BOXES AND VOICE MAILS!!!

    PUTNAM COUNTY COMMISSIONERS’ EMAILS:
    Nancy S. Harris: harris@putnam-fl.com
    Chip Laibl: chip.laibl@putnam-fl.com
    Kenny Eubanks: kenny.eubanks@putnam-fl.com
    Ed Taylor: ed.taylor@putnam-fl.com
    Brad Purcell: brad@putnam-fl.com

    FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL PAM BONDI:
    EMAIL FORM: http://myfloridalegal.com/contact.nsf/contact?Open&Section=Attorney_General

    PHONE NUMBERS: Switchboard: 850-414-3300
    Citizens Services: 850-414-3990
    ADA Coordinator: 850-414-3900
    Florida Relay/TDD: 800-955-8771
    Florida Toll Free: 1-866-966-7226

    FLORIDA’S LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR JENNIFER CARROLL:
    1-850 / 717-9331

    PUTNAM COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE:
    GENERAL INFO: 1-386-329-0800
    ANIMAL SERVICES: 1-386-329-0396
    Public Information Officer (Media) – Deputy Hancel Woods: 1-386-326-2760
    FAX: 1-386-329-0448

    THE LATEST NEWS: OUR VOLUNTEER PHOTOGRAPHER HAS BEEN BANNED FROM PUTNAM SHELTER IN FLORIDA – WE HAVE NO WAY TO GET PHOTOS TO HELP SAVE THE ANIMALS….SINCE WE SET UP OUR PUTNAM PAGE, THE RESCUE/ADOPTION OUT OF THE SHELTER HAD BEGUN TO IMPROVE, AND NOW THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE, I’M ASSUMING IN RETALIATION FOR EXPOSING THEIR ILLEGAL ACTIVITY, HAS BANNED A FLORIDA CITIZEN FROM A PUBLIC SHELTER – A CITIZEN WHO IS ONLY TRYING TO SAVE THE LIVES OF ABANDONED ANIMALS. IT’S TIME TO WRITE THE COMMISSIONERS – AGAIN, YES! BE POLITE, PLEASE – TELL THEM HOW OUTRAGEOUS IT IS TO BAN VOLUNTEERS FROM A PUBLIC SHELTER – DO THEY OR DO THEY NOT WANT THE ANIMALS IN PUTNAM COUNTY TO FIND HOMES? THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR YOUR CONTINUING SUPPORT!!!!!

    PUTNAM COUNTY COMMISSIONERS’ EMAILS:
    Nancy S. Harris: harris@putnam-fl.com
    Chip Laibl: chip.laibl@putnam-fl.com
    Kenny Eubanks: kenny.eubanks@putnam-fl.com
    Ed Taylor: ed.taylor@putnam-fl.com
    Brad Purcell: brad@putnam-fl.com

    IF YOU HAVEN’T HEARD WHAT’S HAPPENING IN FLORIDA’S PUTNAM SHELTER, PLEASE READ & WATCH THE FOLLOWING:

    http://www.examiner.com/american-pit-bull-in-national/red-alert-florida-bully-breeds-slaughtered-at-putnam-shelter

    http://www.examiner.com/animal-welfare-in-albany-ga/here-there-and-everywhere

    http://www.news4jax.com/news/No-pit-bull-adoptions-sparks-debate/-/475880/9297012/-/okeytbz/-/index.html

    http://www.firstcoastnews.com/topstories/article/247292/483/Groups-Debate-No-Pit-Bull-Adoption-Policy-at-Shelter

    http://www.examiner.com/pet-rescue-in-national/putnam-county-sheriff-s-office-accused-of-euthanizing-pit-bulls-for-vengeance?CID=examiner_alerts_article

    PLEASE….PLEASE…PLEASE….READ THE FOLLOWING FROM MY FELLOW “SAVING THE DOGS & CATS OF PUTNAM COUNTY, FLORIDA” ADMIN CYNTHIA CRAWFORD MCGINTY, AND THEN WRITE A POLITE EMAIL TO THE PUTNAM COUNTY FLORIDA COMMISSIONERS (NAMES & ADDRESSES BENEATH CYNTHIA’S POST), LET THEM KNOW YOU KNOW, AND DEMAND IMMEDIATE JUSTICE AND ACTION.

    “PLEASE BEAR WITH ME ON THIS LENGTHY MESSAGE – IT IS URGENT!!! As you may be aware, Putnam has created their own policy of putting down bully breed dogs without making them available for public adoption or rescue. We were under the impression this was changing…we couldn’t have been more mistaken. Last Thursday, one lucky pitbull was able to get out through a foster to adopt program locally. The Sheriff of Putnam decided this was unacceptable and that the dog must be returned…yep, uprooted from his new loving home (and he is loved!) to come back to Putnam to be PTS..by heartstick no less….for reasons I won’t get into this pup was not returned. What happened next is interpreted by this admin as an act of retaliation and vengeance so vile, it made me physically sick…over 17 bully breed dogs were put to sleep Friday, in some twisted show of power by the Sheriff…he is violating Florida Statute 767.14 and has subjected his office to legal repercussions. Now the remaining bullies are quarantined in a pen, not viewable by the public and covered with a tarp. I am choosing to expose this information in a desperate attempt to help the ones left…I haven’t stopped crying for the 17 we didn’t know about and couldn’t save….I do not fault the shelter workers…I fault only one man, this sheriff, who will be up for re-election. Please bear in mind, he ordered this slaughter and had no remorse. Who exerts their power by killing innocent animals…by heartstick? Did he feel satisfied? Proud of himself? Did he teach “someone” a lesson? I fear for his soul but that is between him and God. There is NO excuse for what he did..they weren’t sick, they weren’t unhealthy. I don’t live near Putnam…I need the local people to let the Sheriff know this is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated. I won’t reveal what media outlets have been contacted, but this story WILL be national news and people are watching….lots of people. I am incensed, saddened and outraged…I NEED YOUR HELP….THE PUTNAM ANIMALS NEED YOUR HELP MORE THAN EVER….we must let the sheriff know this inhumane display of “power” will not be tolerated…PLEASE HELP!”

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/SAVING-THE-DOGS-CATS-OF-PUTNAM-COUNTY-FLORIDA/283143275070748

    Like

    • Debs permalink
      March 28, 2012 11:41 am

      I know you don’t want to go thru a rescue for photo’s but isn’t it about saving lives, not who takes the photo’s? Until this is resolved I would be begging for a rescue to go in and get photo’s. Let the Sheriff have his control for now. He’s up for re-election that will be the time to pull the rug out from under him.

      Like

  9. לך לבלוג שלי permalink
    August 18, 2014 2:55 pm

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  10. June 4, 2016 6:32 am

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