Unjust Practices and Hearings Conducted by The Polk County Animal Control
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Our dog has been deemed dangerous without ever biting anyone on the basis of a complaint by our neighbor, who used to work at Polk County Animal Control and knows how to pull strings. We had stacks of evidence to present, but we weren't allowed to present a thing. Animal control officers lied to us as they do many each and every day. Help us demand a fair process to assess our beloved dog Allie and change the hearing process and the laws so that this doesn't happen to anyone else!
On August 22 2019, Polk County Animal Control officers as well as Polk County Sheriff's Officers responded to my home after a neighbor called to report my doberman Allie. The neighbor filed a dangerous dog complaint against us even though Allie did not bite anyone. The charge on the affidavit was that when unprovoked, Allie chased or approached a person upon the streets, sidewalks, or any public grounds in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack. This neighbor was a prior employee of Polk County Animal Control and the investigating officer assigned to our case.
On October 8th 2019, we were served notice that there was sufficient evidence to classify Allie as dangerous. They changed the charge to aggressively bitten, attacked, or endangered or has inflicted severe injury on a human being without any new evidence as the written statements were the same. The written account by the neighbor was the grounds for this entire case. We went to Animal Control the same day and requested a hearing. Investigating Officer Donna Prince told my husband to get signed testimony from neighbors to bring to court as well as shot records. We felt we had the law on our side and had faith in the justice system as there was no proof in this case other than he said- she said. We had nearly a dozen written statements from friends and neighbors as well as pictures of our well behaved and loving dog playing with our one year old grandson. We also have a spotless record with animal control and are responsible dog owners. We also had proof that this case was a conflict of interest due to the fact that I have a picture from Polk County Animal Control's website of the complaining neighbor with the investigating officer as well as the officer that read the official statement at the hearing that day.
Long story short when we walked into the courtroom we were told by Lynn Willyerd Rhodes, the lawyer hearing our case that no written statements would be allowed as they are hear say. My husband looked at Donna Prince(the investigating officer) who was present and reminded her of what she told him and her response was , " I didn't say it would be beneficial." Our dog was found guilty without evidence of anything and just the word of the complaining neighbor. We were not allowed to present any of our statements only a picture of the complaining neighbor's son provoking our dogs from across the street as he pretended to sight them in and shoot them with a make shift gun while his father was present. We left and called attorneys as well as the Florida Bar to win in an appeal. All attorneys we spoke to gave us a play by play of what went down in that court room as if they themselves had been present. They see this miscarriage of justice and infringement of our civil rights often and said if we would have had them present at the hearing it would have been thrown out.
Our faith in the justice system has cost us greatly. Our sweet, kind dog is now labeled dangerous which will cost us over $400.00 a year. We are no longer allowed to have our dog around friends or family younger than 18 years old unless she is muzzled and the neighbor can call anytime she feels like it if she doesn't see us in the yard with the dog. When my husband spoke to the supervisor at animal control to turn un paperwork and pay the fine she told him our dog is labeled as an aggressive breed and we wouldn't have won no matter what that it was decided beforehand.
My rights have been violated. I wish to see a change to this abuse of power by Polk County Animal Control. I want to see a change to the laws so that no more innocent dogs and owners are punished. I want to see a change to how dogs are discriminated against because of their breed. Our dog did not bite or attack anyone and we were found guilty based on the word of a former Polk County Animal Control Officer that knew everyone involved in our case. I know we are not the only ones who have been the victims of Polk County Animal Control. Please sign my petition and share. We are seeking big changes. We have emailed Governor Desantis and filed an official complaint with Administrative Investigations.
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