Seized dogs attack shelter worker, volunteers | Local News
They never saw it coming.
On three separate days, dogs confiscated by the county from the Out of the Box Rescue attacked two volunteers and a worker at the Citrus County Animal Shelter, according to county records.
The attacking dogs were then euthanized after a judge accepted the county’s request to grant him custody of 43 dogs, a pig and three chickens seized in January from Out of the Box, a Floral City rescue led by Robert Schweickert Jr. Schweickert’s lawyer on appeal. decision.
Schweickert faces 27 counts of animal cruelty.
The county is reportedly not disclosing the names of those attacked or their injuries, citing privacy laws. Incident reports have erased these details.
But reports show that in all three cases, the dogs – Ace, CJ and Otis – were attacked without provocation by either other dogs or humans.
Animal Services Director Colleen Yarbrough declined to discuss the specific attacks but said nothing could be done to prevent them.
She said employees and volunteers receive extensive training to learn how to read a dog’s behavioral patterns and ways to defuse aggression.
But they also want to learn the dog’s personality, and that takes time under normal conditions.
“It’s been a slow process to understand everyone,” Yarbrough said of the Out of the Box dogs.
Yarbrough said she is also cautious of dogs that come from Out of the Box, which is known to save dogs known to be euthanized due to aggressive or biting behavior.
“Knowing the reputation plays a role,” she says.
When Citrus County Sheriff’s Deputies and Animal Control Officers arrested Schweickert on January 13, the county filed a separate civil lawsuit asking a judge to grant him legal custody of the dogs, pigs and chickens Out of the Box.
Schweickert’s attorney, Luke Lirot, suggested instead that the animals be transferred to facilities or adopted, according to emails between Lirot and the Citrus County District Attorney’s Office.
In February, a judge sided with the county and granted him legal possession of the animals. Lirot is appealing the decision.
One dog was medically euthanized, leaving 42 dogs for shelter staff and volunteers.
The first attack was on March 24 when “CJ”, a 55-pound mix of dogs, attacked a volunteer at a shelter in an outdoor playground.
Reports indicate that a shelter worker was working with the volunteer.
“They then both entered the yard with a ‘rattle paddle,’ which is used to deter animals from attacking and is a tool commonly used by staff,” the report said. “The dog was running in the yard without problem and without provocation, attacked the victim.
The next day it happened again. This time, “Ace”, a mixed breed from Out of the Box, attacked an unprovoked shelter volunteer as the volunteer approached an area where an employee was standing with an Ace on a leash, the state reports. .
The third attack occurred on April 3 when “Otis,” a 79-pound mixed breed seized at Out of the Box, accused a playground employee of trying to separate two other dogs.
Citrus County officials euthanized the three dogs.
The fate of the other dogs is unknown as Schweickert is appealing the judge’s decision who gave Citrus County possession of the Out of the Box animals. And the Schweickert criminal case is progressing; his next hearing will be on June 24.
Yarbrough said she did not know how many remaining Out of the Box dogs would be available for adoption after court cases were concluded.
“Our goal right now,” she says, “is to take care of these dogs.”