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Tag: florida

How not to find a pet sitter

fluffyIt would be easy to blame the disappearance of Fluffy on Craigslist. Too easy.

Fluffy’s owner deserves some of the blame — for leaving her four-year-old shih tzu-Maltese mix with a woman who responded to her Craigslist ad for a pet sitter, without ever visiting the home her dog was going to be staying in.

But the real culprit, police in Florida say, is the woman they are now looking for — the one who identified herself as Keyana Morales when she responded to the pet owner’s ad, and who was hired after meeting  with Fluffy and her owner a couple of times in a local park.

Fluffy’s owner hired Morales to care for Fluffy while she and her family were on vacation out of the country. When she returned from vacation, Fluffy — and Morales — were nowhere to be found.

Her phone calls and emails went unanswered, and the address the pet sitter gave her turned out to be a vacant house, Local10 reports.

Police in Boynton Beach say Morales’ name was phony as well. They are now seeking the woman they believe absconded with the dog after posing as a pet sitter – Shamari Patrick, 23.

Police say Patrick lives out of her car, a burgundy Grand Marquis. (Anyone with information about Patrick or Fluffy is asked to call police at 561-742-6135 or Palm Beach County Crime Stoppers at 800-458-TIPS.)

patrick

Police say they believe stealing Fluffy was Patrick’s intent from the start, which, unless she was paid up front, doesn’t make much sense, and doesn’t explain why Patrick, as Morales, stayed in touch with the pet owner during her trip, and emailed her photos of Fluffy.

We don’t know if police are jumping to conclusions, but Fluffy’s owner sure did before leaving on vacation in July when she decided to hire a pet sitter without exercising hardly any of the diligence that was due.

Maybe that’s why she’s seeking not to be identified by name. News reports refer to her as Fluffy’s owner, or “the victim.” Perhaps she’s a little embarassed about having done so little homework before entrusting her dog to a stranger.

Craigslist, and the Internet, make everything seem so quick and easy that we no longer see them as what they truly are — crapshoots, unreliable and dangerous, in large part because they make us think answers and solutions are just a click away.

Craigslist, and all the rest of the Internet, should be seen as a starting point, from which to move on to further research. Otherwise they can lead to endings  that, as could be the case for Fluffy, are not at all happy.

Twice spurned, dog finds love in Florida

lady

Like any steamy romance novel, this story features a damsel in distress, a hero, and a happy ending that shows that love — even when it’s lost — can still come back and conquer all.

The damsel in distress, in this case, is a black Lab named Lady, who walked across 30 miles of Kansas to reunite with her former owners, only to be spurned by them.

The hero is Helen Rich Rosburg, a chewing gum heiress, animal lover and writer of romance novels.

ladyonplaneThe happy ending came last week when Rosburg, after reading about the elderly dog’s long trek home, and her susbsequent rejection, decided to adopt her, and flew her to Florida on her private jet.

According to KCTV, Lady hadn’t had a stable living arrangement for several years.

Her owner died in 2012, landing Lady in the animal shelter in Sedan, Kansas.

She was adopted by a family, but surrendered back to the shelter because she didn’t seem to get along with the family’s puppy or other little dogs.

She was adopted again this summer, by a woman in Independence, Kansas.

But, the KCTV report says, Lady apparently wanted go back where she came from. Despite her age, and arthritis, she walked 30 miles back to Sedan.

The family that first adopted her declined to take her back, and so did the woman in Independence.

Lady was living at the Chautauqua County Animal Shelter when her situation and photo were shared on Facebook.

“The senior lab walked nearly 30 miles to come home,” Cindy Barclay Powell wrote on Facebook. “Is there anyone out there who can give this girl a home? She may not have many years left. She is spayed, house broken, leash trained, mellow, having problems walking (so her travels back to Sedan amazed me).”

The post was shared nearly 7,000 times and Lady’s story was picked up by Examiner.com last week.

rosburgAmong those who heard about it was Rosburg, the romance novel writer and great-granddaughter of the founder of Wrigley’s, the gum company.

Rosburg runs a rescue and sanctuary for neglected and abandoned animals out of her farm in Odessa, Florida.

On Thursday, she had a private jet flown to Kansas to bring Lady there.

Rosburg says Lady will lead a pampered life, and will join the cats and dogs living inside her home.

“Dig ‘em up and move ‘em out”

greenmounds

When is a “final resting place” not so final?

When it’s a pet cemetery in Florida.

The owner of Green Mounds Pet Cemetery in Pinellas County says she can no longer afford to maintain or pay taxes on the property, and she is urging owners of the thousands of pets buried there to “dig ‘em up and move ‘em out,” according to a recent report by WFLA.

“In another year the county will most likely take possession of the property due to back taxes owed,” Laura Fletcher, president of Fletcher Enterprises, Inc., told a Channel 8 reporter.

She advised pet owners to move their animals to another cemetery before someone else takes the property and decides to bulldoze and develop it.

Seems all those promises the cemetery’s previous owners made about perpetual care, and all the fees pet owners paid for it, mean nothing now — if they ever did in the first place.

The former owners of the cemetery sold the property in 2000 to Fletcher Enterprises, Inc., which owned a Harley Davidson dealership next door. The company purchased the cemetery, but never operated it as such. They planned instead to use the land to expand their parking lot.

When the motorcycle dealership went out of business, Fletcher Enterprises stopped fully maintaining the property, which is now overgrown with weeds, with a mausoleum that serves as home to at least one otherwise homeless man.

Those who buried their dogs and other pets there over the decades — reportedly 6,000 of them — have watched the cemetery get covered up with weeds and brush so dense that any headstones have become hard to see.

“I get angry at this place not being maintained, because I did pay for perpetual care,” said Joann Vaught, who buried her poodle Martini in Green Mounds in 1979. “I think it’s deplorable, it’s such a disgrace to the memory of our beloved pets.”

Green Mounds sits off U.S. Highway 19 near the Largo city line.

The WFLA reporter who visited found a mattress in the mausoleum building, apparently used by the same man whose underwear was seen hanging on a railing.

Customers have complained to Pinellas County officials about conditions at the cemetery, but they said all they could do anything about was the weeds. The county has ordered Fletcher to cut them several times, and she has complied.

Pet cemeteries are not regulated by the state.

Fletcher told WFLA in an email that she is willing to donate Green Mounds to another pet cemetery or anyone who will maintain it.

“We are within our rights to sell, donate or build on the property as we see fit. We chose not to do any of these until pets could be moved. It has been a year and a half. Plenty of time to move them. Do it soon or you may not get a say in what happens to them once we no longer own the property.”

Here’s the WFLA report:

WFLA News Channel 8

Condo association to pay for its stupidity

fischerA Florida condo association that told a woman with multiple sclerosis that her service dog was too big has agreed to pay $300,000 to atone for its collective stupidity.

The settlement followed a federal judge’s declaration that Sabal Palm Condominiums in Davie, which sued to force the woman to get rid of the dog, had behaved in a manner both absurd and unreasonable, not to mention in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

“Sabal Palm got it exactly — and unreasonably — wrong,” U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola wrote in his order.

“This is not just common sense — though it is most certainly that.”

Scola ordered the condo association to allow Deborah Fischer, a retired art teacher, to keep her service dog, the Miami Herald reported.

Fischer, who uses a wheelchair and has limited use of her arms and hands, received a service dog in November 2011 from Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit group that provides dogs for people with disabilities.

The dog – a 5-year-old Labrador-golden retriever mix named Sorenson — has been trained to help Fischer pick things up, open and close doors and retrieve items from counter tops.

The condominium association, saying the dog violated its 20-pound limit on pets, began demanding medical records and other information to prove that Fischer needed Sorenson — and it sued Fischer when, it said, she failed to provide it.

Fischer, along with her husband, Larry, counter-sued, saying the condo board’s demands violated the federal Fair Housing Act, or FHA.

Judge Scola, in a 30-page ruling, strongly agreed with Fischer.

That the condo association “turned to the courts to resolve what should have been an easy decision is a sad commentary on the litigious nature of our society. And it does a disservice to people like Deborah who actually are disabled and have a legitimate need for a service dog as an accommodation under the FHA,” he wrote.

Condo board members suggested that Fischer could get a smaller service dog, but Scola didn’t buy that argument.

After Scola ruled in the Fischers’ favor, their attorney negotiated a $300,000 settlement with the attorney representing Sabal Palm.

Fischer said Sorenson can recognize 40 separate commands.

“He has made my life so much better,” she said.

(Photo: Courtesy of Matthew Dietz)

Did you hear the one about the guide dog in a nudist community?

fowlerandlauraA homeowner’s association at Paradise Lakes Resort doesn’t have weight limits when it comes to human residents, and we guess that’s a good thing — even though the condo community is a clothing-optional one.

But the association’s rules run a little stricter for dogs, including one that bans any dogs over 25 pounds — apparently even when it’s a guide dog that belongs to a legally blind resident of the nudist community.

By now you’ve probably guessed that this can only be happening in Florida, specifically in Lutz, where a homeowner’s association has told Sharon Fowler she needs to get rid of her black Labrador, Laura, or move out, according to a lawsuit.

Fowler filed a lawsuit against the association last year. It was dismissed by one judge, but now that dismissal has been overturned by an appeals court, and Fowler has renewed her fight to keep the dog she says she can’t get around without.

“She helps me to get around curbs and obstacles,” Fowler told the Tampa Bay Times.  “She’s 100 percent necessary to me. She’s my lifeline.”

According to a lawsuit filed last year, Fowler received a letter from the association telling her to get rid of the dog or move out.

The association said the dog violated their weight limits — something that wasn’t pointed out when Fowler filled out an application, disclosing the dog’s weight, when she moved in.

Even when Fowler provided documentation of her disability, the association did not withdraw the notice of the violations, according to the lawsuit.

“I felt demeaned, and I felt degraded,” Fowler said. “I’ve never felt so degraded.”

Her lawsuit seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages for mental anguish.

“It’s the principle of the fact,” Fowler’s husband, Craig, said. “The board needs to know they cannot bully us around.”

Fowler says she has been told to only walk the dog in specific areas, and stay out of the way of pedestrians. She’s also been told her dog is out of control, which she says is not the case.

“My dog is a highly trained service animal,” she said.

“Paradise Lakes Resort does not discriminate against any person with physical disabilities and does not prevent any person with service animals from visiting the resort,” owner Jerry Buchanan said.

Fowler’s accusations were directed at a homeowners condominium association not connected with the resort.

Fowler says she has a rare autoimmune disease called leukocytoclastic vasculitis, which has already affected her sight and could affect her hearing.

She doesn’t want to move because she has learned her way around Paradise Lakes, and appreciates being able to live in a clothing optional community.

(Photo: Fowler and Laura; by Brendan Fitterer / Tampa Bay Times)

Facing eviction, woman strangles pit bull; says she didn’t want anyone else to have it

bezanson

Faced with eviction unless she got rid of her pit bull, a Florida woman got rid of her pit bull — by strangling her and burying her in her mother’s yard, authorities say.

Shelly Bezanson, 28, of Osprey,  told police she choked the dog to death with her own leash because she didn’t want anyone else to have her, the Herald-Tribune in Sarasota reports.

“The vet would not put Diamond down, so I did,” Bezanson said, according to a probable cause affidavit filed by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office.

After learning she faced eviction, Bezanson  repeatedly asked a veterinarian to euthanize the otherwise healthy 7-year-old dog. When the vet repeatedly refused, suggesting rescue groups that would take the dog in and find her a new home, Bezanson took matters into her own hands.

bezansonmugOn Nov. 14, Bezanson strangled Diamond using the dog’s chain leash, turning up the music in her apartment so her neighbors would not hear her, officers said.

Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Wendy Rose called the incident a “horrible story — particularly when you have so many willing rescue groups to help take the dog and give it a forever home.”

Bezanson told officers she did not want anyone else to have the dog. 

“I promised Diamond we would be together until the end,” deputies quoted Bezanson as saying. “And this was the end.”

In later interviews, she told deputies that she regretted what she did and wished she would have found someone else to take care of the dog.

Bezanson also owned a kitten and a domesticated rat when she was arrested, and she told officers she planned to adopt another dog.

Charged with animal cruelty, she is being held at the Sarasota County Jail on $25,000 bond.

Judging from the comments the article is generating, she might want to stay there.

(Photos: Mug shot of Bezanson, and undated photo of Bezanson with Diamond, provided by Sarasota County Sheriff’s office)

Vet tech that swung dog into wall is fired

That Florida veterinary technician videotaped holding a dog by its neck and slamming it against the wall has been fired.

And the footage apparently is finally being reviewed by the state attorney’s office.

The video was recorded on a cellphone, and it was posted on YouTube just over a month ago.

Mohammad Hassan, the veterinarian who heads Emergency Pet Hospital in Orlando, originally defended the employee, but he recently apologized for her actions on on the hospital’s Facebook page.

“I want to apologize to all of the pet owners and animal lovers who were rightly shocked by the cruelty on the video,” he wrote in the post.

Hassan also says the vet tech, Stefanie Stasse, has been fired.

Meanwhile, WFTV in Orlando reports that the state attorney’s office has received a copy of the video from the Orange County sheriff’s office for review.

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