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Tag: florida

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.

Homeless man reunited with his pit bull

handoverJames Bryan says in recent years he has lost his farm, home, wife and most of his personal belongings.

The only real piece of his previous life the homeless Florida man still had was his dog, a blue pit bull named Handover.

On the morning of May 8, he woke up — along U.S. 19 in Hudson — to find Handover was gone, too.

The dog was gift, five years ago, from his now ex-wife. She was holding the dog and asked Bryan what they should name him. Bryan said, “Hand him over.”

“He is my best friend. He’s my heart and soul,” Bryan told ABC Action News, which last week picked up on the story about the missing dog. “If anybody sees him, please bring him home.”

As word spread about the missing dog,  Carolyn Texter, who knew Handover and Bryan from her work with animal rescues, decided to help.

Texter started a Facebook page to find Handover, and a reward fund established for his safe return grew to $1,000. Yesterday, Handover was found and, after a visit to a vet for a check-up and microchipping, reunited with Bryan.

 Texter described him as “speechless” and thankful for all the help he’d received.

(Photo: Facebook)

Dog spent week with head stuck in cooler

Police and firefighters rescued a dog in south Florida Monday whose head was trapped in a discarded bait cooler — possibly for more than a week.

Passersby spotted the dog in western Miami-Dade County and called authorities.

Police, firefighters and animal control officers joined in the rescue, injecting the dog with Valium to sedate her, then using a reciprocating saw to enlarge the hole in the fiberglass boat cooler, TV station WTSP reported.

An animal control officer said that, based on the severity of the dog’s wounds, she might have been trapped for a week.

The dog is a 40-pound female Labrador mix, according to Firehouse.com. She appeared to have recently given birth, authorities said, and her extra body fat may have helped keep her alive. No puppies were found in the area.

The dog was taken to Miami-Dade Animal Services, where she was treated by veterinarians.  She has been named Lucky and will be put up for adoption.

Bella the boxer to the rescue

Joseph Thomas was pushing his 4-year-old daughter Jada on her swingset when two gunmen entered their back yard in Bradenton, Florida, and demanded money.

Bella, their boxer, and the other family dog, ran toward the men, who fired several errant shots before they ran off.

“If someone offered me a million dollars for her right now,” Thomas said of Bella, “I wouldn’t take it.”

Sunny goes down — because he got too big

Sunny’s first offense was growing.

Being a Rottweiller-mastiff mix, he — as  you’d expect — quickly surpassed the 100-pound mark, well over the weight limit imposed at the Florida apartment complex where his owner, Denise Wilkinson, lived.

She started searching for a new home for him, but, unable to find one by the landlord’s deadline, dropped him off at Pinellas County Animal Services, with plans to pick him back up when she found one.

On its website, the county said dogs are kept seven days there. In person, they told her 48 hours. In reality, they euthanized him before a day had passed.

When Wilkinson, a day after dropping him off, went to pick up her dog, she found out Sunny had been euthanized — within hours of being dropped off.

“He wasn’t sick; he wasn’t old. He still had a long life ahead of him,” Wilkinson told Tampa Bay Online.

Senior Animal Control Officer John Hohenstern said Sunny was aggressive and caused concerns about the safety of shelter workers. “It was determined that because of the aggression in the dog it was not an adoption candidate,” he said. “We couldn’t do anything with the dog.”

Hohenstern  said that, despite the wording on the website, Wilkinson had initialed a paper stating she understood that the surrender was is unconditional: “Pinellas County Animal Services makes no promise, actual or implied, regarding holding time, treatment, adoption or disposition of this animal.” Hohenstern said the document initialed by Wilkinson superseded the website.

The county, Tampa Bay Online reports, has since changed the language on the website.

Hohenstern said with more animals being surrendered, possibly because of the economy, the animal control office encourages people to consider other options before dropping a dog there. “We try to … let them know this is kind of their last resort,” Hohenstern said. “They don’t want to do this.”

Dolphins credited with saving Doberman

Dolphins are being credited with saving a Doberman who had run away from his home on Marco Island and ended up in a Florida canal.

The dog’s owner said a neighbor fished the 11-year-old dog, named Turbo, out of the canal after being alerted by dolphins. It’s not totally clear in this this NBC2 story just how they did that, but we’ll assume it was by splashing about – as opposed to making dolphin distress calls or sending a text message.

According to the dog’s owner, Cindy Burnett, the neighbor jumped in the water after calling 9-1-1 and pulled Turbo out. By the time he was rescued, Turbo had been missing for 15 hours, she said.

Florida officer kills two dogs out for a walk

A St. Petersburg, Florida, police officer shot and killed two dogs Sunday night.

Chris Clark, 44, said he was walking his Rottweiler, Quincy, and his landlord’s Chesapeake Bay retriever, Missy, when he heard a police officer shouting at him — Officer Slobodan Juric, who was investigating a complaint about a suspicious person in the area.

When Clark stopped, a third dog, unleashed approached Missy and the two exchanged growls. Quincy’s leash got wrapped around him. Clark fell and the dogs started fighting.

Clark told the St. Petersburg Times that he was grabbing his dogs’ collars, trying to pull them away, when Juric yelled “mad dog” and pointed the gun at Missy.

Clark said Juric fired one shot into the dog, pointed the gun at Quincy and fired another round, then fired two more shots into Missy.

“We’ve begun an internal affairs investigation,” said St. Petersburg Police Department spokesman Mike Puetz. “There will be a statement taken from (Clark) and from everybody who was a witness in the case, to try and discern the totality of the events and the appropriateness of the (officer’s) action.”

Juric, 25, has been with the department for more than a year. He was formerly a freelance photographer for the St. Petersburg Times.

Happy campers: The dogs on the bus

Kids aren’t the  only ones climbing aboard the school bus these days in Miami.

Totally Dog, a day camp for dogs in southwest Miami, sends a yellow school bus to pick up its campers — and from what I can see in this video they seem to behave at least as good as schoolchildren.

Dog trainer Elena Sweet opened Totally Dog in 1999. Her husband Jeremy drives the bus. Owners pay about $45 a day for camp.

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