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Palm Coast Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017 5 years ago

Interstate 95 dog incident still under investigation

The dog's owner has been given a $35 citation for violating a county ordinance, but state animal cruelty charges are also still possible.
by: Jonathan Simmons Senior Editor

An incident in which a dog was spotted tethered to the top of a trailer being towed south on Interstate 95 behind an SUV in Palm Coast Jan. 11 is still under investigation.

State animal cruelty charges are possible, depending on whether or not detectives determine that there was criminal intent to be cruel to the dog, Flagler County Sheriff's Office spokesman Mark Strobridge said. 

Video of the dog cowering on top of a trailer on I-95 went viral after a Palm Coast woman named Brenna Cronin recorded it with her cell phone and posted the video to Facebook, then shared it with the Sheriff's Office.

The dog's owners are St. Johns County residents, who told investigators that they were taking the dog — a pitbull terrier named Zeus — to go hog hunting when Cronin took the video, according to a Flagler Humane Society news release.

The dog’s owner contacted Flagler Animal Services the day after the incident after learning that Animal Services was seeking information. 

Flagler Animal Services issued the dog's owner a $35 ticket for violating a county ordinance on safe transportation of animals.

Officers from both Flagler Animal Services and Saint Johns County Animal Control visited the owner's home to investigate. The dog remained in its owner's custody. 

"The owner has many dogs living both inside and outside that were all well cared for," Flagler Animal Services Officer Bryan Denker said in the news release. "All the kennels were clean and there was nothing criminal or out of the ordinary."

Florida law doesn't currently regulate how dogs may be transported in vehicles, but a bill titled "Dogs in Vehicles," Senate Bill 320, was introduced Jan. 10 by Sen. Greg Stuebe of Sarasota.

The bill requires dogs transported in an open pickup truck bed or trailer to be in a ventilated container or securely tethered to prevent falling or injury.

The text of the bill, however, contains exceptions for farm dogs actively being used for farming, and for "a hunting or sporting dog being used at a hunting site, sporting event, or between hunting sites or sporting events."

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