SAN CARLOS PARK, Fla. - A Lee County deputy goes in a woman's yard, and ends up facing off with a family pet. He shot the dog twice, and now the owner is furious, demanding answers, saying her dog did nothing wrong.
Christine Bonelli was inside her San Carlos Park home Thursday afternoon when she heard two shots. "First I thought it was fireworks and said no, that's gunshots I think," Bonelli said.
She stepped outside to find two deputies and her Foxhound Mix "Harley" with gunshot wounds. "Blood was coming out of his shoulder and on his leg, coming out of his mouth," Bonelli said.
A neighbor tells WINK News he warned deputies that Harley was in the fenced-in backyard, but they continued on. "They said he was in the chair when he came in the yard, and he came running and barking at them, protecting his property, he didn't bite them, he might have shown teeth, but they shot him twice," Bonelli said.
According to a Sheriff's Office spokesperson, deputies were responding to a domestic dispute nearby, and searching for a girl that ran off. A deputy knocked on Bonelli's door. When there was no answer, he walked to her backyard through an open gate. That's when he said, an "aggressive Pit Bull" charged at him. The deputy hit the dog, and when it would not yield, he shot twice.
"They felt he was threatening and they shot him and I think they overreacted," Bonelli said. "What does a dog do? It protects the property and I was told by the police when I got robbed to get a dog. So I did what they said, and they shot him."
Within hours, Bonelli created a Facebook group called "Justice for Harley." Unemployed for two years and already struggling with bills, Bonelli thinks the Sheriff's Office should have to foot the medical costs. "I didn't expect my dog to get shot today," Bonelli said.
Lee County Domestic Animal Services fined Bonelli $268 for what they called, Harley's "Threatening/menacing" behavior. They are now looking into why the gate door was not secured, although Bonelli maintains the gate was shut.
The Sheriff's Office spokesperson says having to use force with animals is always a last resort and not something they ever want to do. There is good news - the veterinarian says Harley is doing well.