For Immediate Release:
January 24, 2023
Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382
Orlando, Fla. – After PETA alerted local law enforcement to a video recorded by a concerned neighbor showing a man stabbing a screaming, crated pit bull puppy with a stick, officials confiscated the dog along with another in the man’s custody and charged him with felony cruelty to animals—but PETA just learned that the dogs have since been returned to the alleged abuser. So today the group fired off a letter to State Attorney Monique H. Worrell urging her to take immediate action to ensure that officials recover the animals.
PETA points out in its letter that the suspect has also allegedly been seen kicking the pit bull puppy, putting him in a chokehold and carrying him by the neck, and whipping him. The group cites reports that the suspect may have obtained a third dog and that he’s in the process of relocating.
“Returning animal victims to a suspected abuser puts them in severe danger of retaliatory cruelty,” says PETA Vice President Martin Mersereau. “We’re calling on the state attorney to right this wrong and get these dogs to safety now.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any other way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
PETA’s letter to Worrell follows.
January 24, 2023
The Honorable Monique H. Worrell
State Attorney for the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court for the State of Florida
Orange County State’s Attorney’s Office
415 N. Orange Ave.
Orlando, FL 32801
Dear Ms. Worrell:
Greetings from PETA. We’re writing in reference to a cruelty-to-animals case under review by your office involving the sadistic abuse of a crated dog (Orlando Police Case #2023-00016469). Video footage reportedly recorded on January 6 at 5955 Shenandoah Way, Orlando, is available at this Dropbox link. It shows a man viciously stabbing a screaming pit bull puppy—crated and completely helpless to dodge the blows—in the face and body with a variety of stick-like implements. This animal is apparently no stranger to abuse. The reporting party relayed to PETA that while he was entering the apartment via the patio on November 29, the suspect kicked the puppy and that the puppy’s anguished yelps persisted from within the unit. On December 2, the suspect reportedly yelled, “I am going to beat your [expletive],” after the animal hesitated to come when called. He then reportedly put the puppy in a chokehold and hauled his victim indoors. On December 13, again on the lawn, the suspect was reportedly seen whipping the puppy with a stick.
Orlando police responded to the address at PETA’s request, and on January 13 two dogs were confiscated by Orange County Animal Services. We were horrified to learn that their suspected abuser was allowed to reclaim both of them several days later, even though police were still investigating and the filing of felony charges was already underway. In addition, Florida Statutes Title XLVI, Chapter 828.073 states that when an animal is confiscated, a petition must be filed and a court hearing held to determine the fitness of the owner to care for the animal—a process that was apparently not followed. Furthermore, we understand that on or about the weekend of January 14, the suspect may have obtained a third dog and is in the process of changing residences.
Respectfully, we urge your office to prioritize this case and take the necessary steps to allow officials to confiscate the dogs again. This would seem particularly urgent given that the abuse could well persist and perhaps even intensify, out of spite. We ask also that if convicted, in addition to applicable fines and a period of incarceration, the abuser be prohibited from contact with animals for as long as possible (a common provision in such cases).
Thank you for your urgent consideration and for the important work you do every day. May we please hear back soon to confirm receipt of this request?
Emergency Response Team Director
Cruelty Investigations Department