NORTH FLORIDA LINK PROJECT

From coast to coast, we're all part of communities. In the suburbs, beach towns, cities, and on farms across Florida we share the responsibility of keeping our community safe for people AND for animals.

The FBI classifies Animal Cruelty as a 'Crime Against Society’. We all play a role in keeping our society safe. Research shows crimes against animals are serious and often precursors to other crimes such as assault, domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, terrorism and homicide. Taking action to report animal abuse may prevent other crimes. Together, we can make a difference!

A CALL TO ACTION!

 

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REPORT Abuse

The Animal Abuse Link

“The co-occurrence of animal abuse and some forms of criminal behavior demands that we make understanding this link part of our approach to fighting crime in our society”. Laurie Robinson, Assistant Attorney General, Department of Justice

 

Police researchers determined that animal abuse is a better predictor of sexual assault than are previous convictions for homicide, arson or weapons offenses. Animal cruelty offenders average four different types of criminal offenses, and 100% of sexual homicide offenders reported having been cruel to animals. A report concluded that offender profiling for homicide, sexual assault, arson, stalking and child abuse would benefit greatly from law enforcement having more information about animal cruelty. (Gullone & Clarke, 2005)

 

The International Association of Chiefs of Police wrote, “Over the last decade, social scientists & law enforcement agencies have begun to examine cruelty to animals as a serious human problem closely linked to domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, & other violent crimes."

 

“Our research has shown if somebody is harming an animal, there is a good chance they also are hurting or will hurt a human. If we can see patterns of animal abuse,the odds are that something else is going on" John Thompson,Deputy Executive Director National Sheriffs’ Association

 

48% of rapists and 30% of child molesters reported committing animal abuse during childhood or adolescence (Animal Abuse and Violent Offending, Juvenile Justice Bulletin 2001)

 

62-76% of animal abuse in the home occurs in the presence of children, causing emotional distress (Faver & Strand, 2003)


70% of people charged with cruelty to animals also had other reported incidents of violent behavior – including homicide. (Boat &  Knight, 2000)


43% of perpetrators of school shootings have histories of animal abuse (Verlinden, Herson & Thomas, 2000).

 

Animal sexual abuse is often linked with child pornography, in most states offenders are placed on the “Megan’s Law” registry of sex offenders.

 

"There are 3 primary areas in which bestiality is linked with sex trafficking: pornography, solicitation and coercion, and prostitution. M. Jenny Edwards, Dark Secrets & Stolen Lives

 

“Animal cruelty is both a gateway crime & an indicator that other crimes may be co-occurring, animal cruelty is considered a window into the home & a significant part of the pattern of family violence.” , Virginia Maxwell, Documenting & Processing Animal Cruelty Scenes

 

The National Coalition on Violence Against Animals reports: The following Serial Killers committed animal cruelty crimes prior to their careers as Serial Killers: Ted Bundy, Richard Chase, Carroll Edward Cole, Jeffrey Dahmer, Albert DeSalvo, Dennis Rader, & Gary Ridgeway. Contract killer Richard Kuklinski abused animals as a youth. Interpol fugitive Luka Magnotta has been charged with Animal Abuse.

SCHOOL SHOOTERS that prior to killing their classmates and Teachers had performed acts of animal cruelty: Pearl, Mississippi / West Paducah, Kentucky / Jonesboro, Arkansas / Springfield, Oregon / Littleton, Colorado o/Conyers, Georgia / San Diego, California / Parkland, Florida

 

Animal Abuse Terrorism LINK

"The National Counterterrorism Center, Department of Homeland Security, and FBI consider animal cruelty, particularly when premeditated in nature, as useful in identifying an accelerated and increased risk of violence which may be thought of as an experimental aggression leading to acts of mass, violent terrorism." -Joint Counterterrorism Assessment Team, 2018

 

Animal Fighting LINK

10 states allow animal fighting to also be charged under RICO racketeering statutes, due to the prevalence of organized crime, human trafficking, narcotics, weapons, and gambling at staged animal combats.

 

35% of search warrants executed for animal abuse or dog fighting resulted in seizures of narcotics and/or weapons:

 

"The United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General-Investigations, actively investigates allegations of animal abuse. This agency has made animal fighting a high priority in order to demonstrate that these blatant acts of cruelty to animals will no longer be tolerated." USDA-OIG Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Salina Walker

 

"Animal fighting in particular has been linked to gang, weapons, human trafficking, gambling, and narcotics offenses. Therefore, reporting, investigating & prosecuting animal cruelty can help remove dangerous criminals from the street."

 

Animal Recovery Mission has conducted extensive operations in Florida and worldwide. ARM's website reports "In America, cockfighting is illegal in all fifty states, and it is a felony crime if forty of those fifty. However, this cruel and thriving illegal industry still plagues the United States. Since ARM’s incorporation in 2010, it has executed 25 Animal fighting operations to date, including Operation El Traingulo. Other noteworthy undercover investigations include Operation Gallo and Operation Foghorn, both located in the State of Florida."

 

Report Abuse

Animal Rights Foundation Florida

 

Resources 

Animal Cruelty as a Gateway Crime

Sheriff & Deputy Magazine

AVMA Suspected Animal Cruelty

Assessment of Dangerousness

Guidebook for Criminal Justice Professionals

Terrorism DHS Toolbox

Documenting & Processing Animal Cruelty Scenes 

Animal cruelty, pet abuse & violence: the missed dangerous connection

Police Chief Magazine, Animal Cruelty hurts People too

Signs of Dogfighting, ALDF

ASPCA Veterinary Forensic Science Center Florida

 

The Domestic Violence Link

 

"Pet Abuse just continues to jump out as the greatest predictor of Intimate Partner Violence. Understanding that reality and having up tp date information about past calls to a home can help protect police and others summond in an emergency."

Andrew Campbell, Campbell Research and Consulting 

 

"Animal abuse functions as an indicator of high lethality. Research has found that batterers who abuse pets are more dangerous than those who do not. In fact, pet-abusing batterers employ more controlling behaviors, sexual violence, marital rape, emotional violence, and stalking." Phil Arkow, Coordinator National Link Coalition and chair of the Latham Foundation's Animal Abuse and Family Violence Prevention Project. 

 

Some Domstic Violence survivors have reported living in their cars with their pets rather than leaving them behind. Staff at domestic violence shelters has also found that children may experience additional trauma when separated from beloved pets (Flynn, 2000).

 

Batterers who also abuse animals are more dangerous and use more forms of controlling and violent behaviors (Simmons & Lehman, 2007)
 

Nearly 78% of children who experienced threats or harm took action to protect their pets. (McDonald, Collins et al., 2015) 

 

Domestic violence batterers specifically choose pets as targets because they believe the police don’t care about animal cruelty and they can get away with it. (Roguski, 2012)

 

Over 71% of battered women reported that their batterers had harmed, killed or threatened animals to coerce, control and intimidate them. (Ascione, Weber & Wood, 1997)

 

Numerous surveys have reported that 25% to 40% of battered women report they delayed their decision to seek safety out of fear for their animals’ welfare. (McIntosh, 2002)

 

For many battered women and their children, pets may be significant sources of emotional and social support and buffers against the aggression swirling around them. (National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, 2014).

 

62-76% of animal abuse in the home occurs in the presence of children, causing emotional distress (Faver & Strand, 2003)

 

Report Abuse

Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence

 

Resources 

Safe Havens Mapping Project

Florida Domestic Violence Benchbook

Human-Animal Bond/Intimate Partner Violence

Protecting Domestic Violence Victims by Protecting their Pets 

Domestic Violence & Animal Abuse During Covid 19 The Role of the Veterinarian

Red Rover Relief 

Florida Domestic Violence

The Elder Abuse Link

 

"Issues of animal cruelty and older adults usually involve neglect or exploitation by others using threats of violence or actual violence to exert control and power over victims. Adult protection services (APS) workers see multiple forms of family violence and neglect. Seniors are vulnerable to those who would exploit this bond to exert power and control, financial exploitation, or to retaliate. Perpetrators may manipulate this bond to intimidate or coerce victims; they may threaten to abuse or get rid of the pet." - National Sheriffs' Association

 

More than one-third of APS caseworkers reported that their clients’ pets are threatened, injured, killed, or denied care. 75% reported that their clients’ concerns for their pets affected their decisions to accept interventions or other services. (Boat & Knight, 2000)


Memory loss, economic constraints, transportation issues, and physical limitations may cause elder owners to neglect their pets’ food, water, shelter, or veterinary care. 

 

92% of adult protective services caseworkers reported they encountered animal neglect co-existing with their clients’ inability to care for themselves. (Humane Society of the U.S. & State of Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services, 2003)

 

The International Association of Chiefs of Police wrote “Social scientists and law enforcement agencies have begun to examine cruelty to animals as a serious human problem closely linked to domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, and other violent crimes. [These efforts] cannot undo generations of abuse, but they can be an effective means of breaking the cycle of family violence from one generation to the next.”

 

Report Abuse

Florida Elder Protection Program

 

Resources 

Elder Abuse & Link Issues

Elder Abuse and Animal Protective Services

The Child Abuse Link

 

“Identifying and treating animal abuse is an important tool in protecting children from abuse and neglect, while at the same time promoting the safety and well-being of both the children and their pets.” Mary Lou Randour, A Common Bond
 

30% of child molesters reported committing animal abuse during childhood or adolescence affirms Hidden In Sight an international organization dedicated to preventing animal crime, abuse and exploitation through education and investigation.

 

"The link between violence against animals and violence against humans is well established. In a violent household, companion animals are often victims of the very same abusive behaviors that harm children, intimate partners, and vulnerable adults. The first person to identify a child in a dangerous situation may well be a law enforcement officer responding to an animal cruelty call. There is an urgent need for more complete information about these patterns so that social service providers can understand how to intervene safely and effectively." Animal Welfare Institute 

 

"Animal abuse in the form of neglect is often one of the first indicators of distress in the household. Whether owing to lack of empathy, mental illness or substance abuse, a person who fails to provide minimal care for the family pet is more likely to neglect the basic needs of other dependents in the household. In many cases, children found living among the squalor of neglected pets are taken into foster care." The Humane Society of the United States  

 

60% of families under investigation for child abuse, and 88% for physical child abuse, reported animal cruelty. 2/3 of these cruelty incidents were perpetrated by the adult male; 1/3 by the children. (DeViney, Dickert & Lockwood, 1983)

 

62-76% of animal abuse in the home occurs in the presence of children, causing emotional distress (Faver & Strand, 2003)

 

11% of individuals convicted of having sex with animals had prior convictions for child pornography. In 5% of these arrests, animal pornography had been used to groom a child for sexual behavior. (Edwards, 2019)

 

Sexually abused children are 5 times more likely to abuse animals (Ascione et al., 2003)

 

Report Abuse

Florida Department of Children and Families

 

Resources 

A Common Bond, Maltreated Animals and Children in the Home

American Humane, Therapy Animals Supporting Kids 

Animal Abuse and Child Maltreatment 

 

Florida Link News

2021

A 14-year-old girl, who had been placed in a halfway house for stealing several puppies and burning down a house, and a 12-year- old boy were captured by Volusia County, Fla. sheriff’s deputies in a violent shootout after they escaped from a juvenile group home. The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported that the unnamed girl was shot by deputies after she pointed a pump-action shotgun at them from a home they had broken into. No deputies were injured and the girl was reportedly fighting for her life. Deputies started looking for the pair after they escaped from the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home in Enterprise in concern for the boy, who is a severe diabetic and needs insulin every four hours. The youths fired on the deputies multiple times from various parts of the house with a stolen AK-47 and other firearms. “Every time the deputies encountered these two little desperadoes, they ran from us,” said Sheriff Mike Chitwood. “This is like Bonnie and Clyde at 12 years old and 14 years of age.”

 

Leon County, Florida Operation Dirty Water: Police break up a Drug Trafficking and Cockfighting Ring that was being run from Federal Prison

Five suspects and an inmate in a federal prison have been charged in a multi-state investigation involving16 different agencies that uncovered an alleged international narcotics ring and cockfighting enterprise with links to the Juarez Mexican drug cartel. The investigation also resulted in the seizure of 20 firearms, five vehicles, 1,500 pounds of methamphetamine, 24 pounds of THC edibles, 2.4 pounds of marijuana, and 2,500 Xanax pills, with a combined street value of $53.8 million. The Polk County, Fla., Sheriff’s Office announced that “Operation Dirty Water” began in early 2021 when a parcel shipped from Quebec containing 2,500 Xanax pills was intercepted in Winter Haven, Fla. Other narcotics were seized at the residence and investigators learned that the drug trafficking was allegedly controlled by Brian Stanton, 37, currently incarcerated in the U.S. Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta. Undercover agents reportedly arranged for two shipments of 35 pounds and 26 pounds of meth from a woman who said she was being paid $500 for every kilo of meth she delivered. Her arrest led to the location of three illegal meth labs in Georgia. During one of eight search warrants executed, agents discovered and dismantled an illegal cockfighting ring allegedly belonging to Isidoro Palacios, 59, of College Park, Ga. Homeland Security investigators linked the activity to the Juarez cartel, a brutally violent cartel known for its targeted executions and violence.Investigators reportedly found 77 pounds of meth, a stolen vehicle and a stolen shotgun and charged Palacios with drug trafficking, theft by receiving stolen property, and animal cruelty. His criminal history includes 14 arrests in Georgia and Florida on motor vehicle and narcotics charges.
 

Father accused of punching pregnant Mother and killing puppy.
Police in Hollywood, Florida, were reported to be looking for Tyson Pierre-Louis, 20, accused of punching the mother of his unborn child in the face as she watched helplessly while he beat her 9-month-old puppy to death. The incident, according to the Orlando Sentinel, allegedly occurred despite a court order she had against him for previous domestic violence. According to court records, the woman, whose name was redacted, and her puppy, “Bai Bai,” accepted a ride from Pierre-Louis’s father who stopped to pick up his son. When she asked to be let out of the car because she had a no-contact restraining order against Pierre-Louis for a previous domestic violence incident, the son reportedly became enraged, accused her of disrespecting his father, snatched her cellphone and threw it on the ground, punched her in the right eye, and hurled the pit bull puppy to the ground because he said he had paid for it and could do anything with it he wanted. She and her 16-week-old unborn child were uninjured except for her black eye. Pierre-Louis is facing new charges that include aggravated battery on a pregnant woman, aggravated animal cruelty and abuse, criminal mischief, and violating the terms of his pre-trial release from jail on the prior domestic violence case.

 

Sheriff’s deputies in Vero Beach, Florida conducting a controlled drug buy arrested three people on crack cocaine charges and one person on animal cruelty charges for unlawful confinement of six dogs. CBS12 News reported that Lakisha Warner, Modestine Ingram and Clay Robinson were arrested on the drug charges by Indian River County deputies, and Angelina Horskin was arrested on the animal confinement charges. In searching for the cocaine and drug paraphernalia, six dogs that were allegedly housed in rotten wooden kennels without food or water were removed; the dogs were living in their own feces and their nails were reportedly severely overgrown.

 

Branden Anthony Richter, 33, of Belleview, Florida, is facing charges of aggravated assault on a police officer and battery on a police K-9 for allegedly resisting arrest and biting the ear of a police dog. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office said chaos ensued when deputy Brandon Donahue tried to serve Richter on several out- standing warrants. Richter reportedly tried to flee and pointed a loaded gun at the deputy but the dog, “Scout,” brought him down. Bodycam footage revealed a long, violent struggle over the pistol during which Richter allegedly bit both the deputyand Scout and tried to choke it, Fox 35 Orlando reported. Donahue and Scout were recovering from their injuries. Marion County jail records indicate Richter was also facing previous charges of resisting arrest, escaping, motor vehicle theft, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

 

Convicted felon was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, driving with a suspended license and aggravated animal cruelty for allegedly tying a dog to a tree and shooting it with a shotgun for attempting to bite him and his girlfriend. Isaiah Beavers, 30, of Cocoa, Florida, apparently tied the dog to a tree in a public park and fled. Florida Today reported that police found a shotgun in the hatch of the SUV. Beavers was being held without bond in the Brevard County Jail and the dog had to be euthanized.
 
A South Florida veterinarian is facing charges for child pornography possession,  sexually abusing a dog, and allegedly animal crushing authorities said. Prentiss Madden, 40, had been the medical director of Caring Hands Animal Hospital in Aventura Florida. According to a criminal complaint, agents with Homeland Security Investigations received a cyber tip and raided Madden's northeast Miami-Dade home in February. Agents described finding images of child pornography and photos of what appeared to be him sexually abusing a dog, the complaint said.

 

Authorities in Florida are investigating individuals who were allegedly hunting illegally tied to murder the law enforcement officers trying to stop them. Three men from the Miami area Lazaro Milian, Michel Amalfi, & Rodrigo LaRosa were charged with attempting to run over a law enforcement officer with their ATV after an encounter at a hunting camp in Polk County, Fla. The Miami Herald reported that Lazaro Milian, 50, of Miami, Michel Amalfi, 45, of North Miami-Dade, and Rodrigo LaRosa, 27, of Hialeah were in custody. According to charging documents, the three were night hunting at an 88,000-acre RiverRanch Hunt Camp. A Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission officer followed them, took their shotguns and began talking with them. A fight ensued, and Amalfi and LaRosa reportedly ran over the officer with their ATV, beat him, and left him deep in the woods. A manhunt involving some 100 officers and an Osceola County Sheriff’s Department helicopter eventually apprehended the trio. The unnamed officer was reportedly recuperating. Milian is in the middle of a 10-year probation term after having been convicted of grand theft.

 

2020


Fiance Charges with Child Abuse and Animal Cruelty in Shooting of Two Dogs
William Petty, 49, of DeLand, Florida, was charged with animal cruelty, child abuse and carrying a concealed weapon after he allegedly tried to make his fianceé’s 16-year- old son shoot one of her two dogs, and then reportedly shot the dogs himself. Volusia County Sheriff’s officials said that following an argument with her, Petty drove the dogs and the teen to a wooded area; when the boy refused to shoot a dog, Petty killed it and tossed both dogs into the woods, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

 

Mother Accused of Sending Son’s Friend Less Photos and Bestiality Video
Darling Noa, 43, of Homestead, Florida, was arrested on charges of lewd and lasciviousconduct, aggravated stalking, and harmful electronic transmission to a minor for allegedly sending her son’s friend inappropriate photos, text messages, voice mails, and bestiality videos. The Miami Herald reported that the boy, age 15, called police after Noa texted him topless photos of herself, pictures of her in nothing but underwear, images of her in see-through lingerie, and a video of a person having sex with a horse. When she asked him if he wanted to have sex with her, she reportedly said he could decline the offer, but if he agreed she would give her children medicine to make them go to sleep early.

 

Woman Threatening to Jump Throws Dog Off Motel Balcony Instead
A Daytona Beach, Florida woman who threatened to jump from a second-story motel room but instead allegedly threw a dog off the balcony was charged with animal cruelty and resisting an officer with violence. The Orlando Sentinel reported that Allison Murphy, 35, had threatened to jump from a Motel 6 balcony; after Volusia County Sheriff’s deputies knocked on her door, she came out with a German shepherd and threw the dog off the balcony. The dog, named “Miracle” by Volusia County Animal Services, landed on its feet and was not seriously injured although an x-ray found a sewing needle lodged in her right thigh. A future court hearing will determine custody provisions for the dog.

 

Alachua County, Florida., Detectives Bust Alleged Dognapping and Robbery Scheme 
Jeffrey Paul Parris, 34, of Gainesville, Florida, was arrested in an elaborate alleged dognapping and robbery scheme when he reportedly demanded a ransom for the dog’s return to Alachua County sheriff’s detectives. The Gainesville Sun reported that Parris allegedly broke into a home and stole thousands of dollars in cash, two handguns, $1,000 shoes, and a pit bull. Following the burglary, the victim began getting texts demanding $20,000 for the dog’s safe return. The dog’s owner notified authorities, who responded by text to Parris, who upped the ante to $25,000 and threatened to send the dog’s paws back in a box if the ransom wasn’t paid. After Parris picked up what turned out to be an empty money bag outside a car wash, detectives tailed his car and found the dog alive and huddled in the back seat. Parris served two years in state prison on multiple burglary and grand theft charges.

 

Teen Who Shot Police K-9 After Armed Robbery and Carjacking Gets 25 Years In Prison 
A Jacksonville, Florida teen who fatally shot a Sheriff’s Office K-9 named “Fang” two years ago was sentenced to 25 years in prison followed by 10 years probation. The defense attorney for Jhamel Malik Paskel, now 19, asked the court for leniency
saying his client was now a man ready to take responsibility for mistakes he made as Jhamel Paskel a child, the Florida Times-Union reported. Paskel had pled guilty to killing the police dog, possession of a gun by a juvenile delinquent, and armed robbery and kidnapping for carjacking two women that preceded a 120-mph high-speed chase and the dog’s death. “We are glad to bring this case to resolution,” State Attorney Melissa Nelson told WOKV radio. “His senseless killing underscores the dangers law enforcement face every day and it sparked changes in state law. This outcome finally achieves justice to Fang’s memory.”

 

Ex-football Star Charged with Sexual Activity with Minors and Animal Neglect
Former Jacksonville Jaguars football player Telvin Smith, 29, who had been arrested in April for allegations of unlawful sexual activity with minors, was charged with seven civil citations for alleged animal neglect. Jacksonville Florida Animal Care and Protective Services said Smith left dogs tethered and unattended in his yard, according to the Florida Times-Union. A star athlete at Florida State University, Smith played for the Jaguars in 2014-2018 but abruptly stepped away from football to focus on his health and family.

 

12-Year-Old Who Shot Family Dog Charged with Bringing Guns to School
A 12-year-old boy who had recently killed the family dog with a pellet gun was arrested after Nassau County, Florida deputies said he brought three guns and ammunition to school. Citing the severity of the incidents, WJXT-TV identified the boy as Gabriel Dean Lewis Stanford, of Callahan. The principal of Lighthouse Christian School called the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office after staff found two firearms and two boxes of .380 caliber ammo in his lunchbox; a third gun, that was loaded, was later found along with a violent drawing of a man outside a school with guns. The man was surrounded by dead bodies, covered in red marker indicating blood.
Sheriff Bill Leeper called the incident “very scary,” saying it’s “dangerous for kids to have weapons like that, much less taking one to school.” The boy’s mother said he had recently accidentally killed the family’s Chihuahua with a pellet rifle when he was unsupervised.
“When you look at the killing of a family pet, you look at some of the drawings that were found in the kid’s desk, it is alarming," Leeper said. "You don’t know what’s in the child’s mind and what they’re thinking — maybe innocent, maybe not. But surely, you don’t want to take that chance; you want to make sure the child gets the help that he needs to make sure nothing like this will happen in the future.”

 

Recovered Stolen Phone Leads to Child and Animal Pornography Charges
A man whose stolen cell phone was recovered following a robbery was charged with multiple counts of child pornography, animal cruelty and bestiality after detectives allegedly found 1,400 files of child pornography and video of him abusing the family dog. The Volusia County, Fla. Sheriff’s Office reported that Joshua Jobe, 20, of Deltona, Florida also had a history of abusing a different family dog when he lived in DeLand, Fla., in 2016. The University of Florida’s Veterinary Forensic Sciences Program and Volusia County Animal Services assisted in the investigation. The analysis of Jobe’s phone also revealed texts claiming access to and sexual contact with children, including claims of raping children and babies; the Sheriff’s Office said there were no indications substantiating any of these had happened but they asked anyone with potential information to come forward. The dog, “Brownie,” was removed from the home.

 

Dispute Over Dangerous Dog Leaves Two Neighbors and Gunman Dead
An 82-year-old man apparently angry that his next-door neighbors had managed to get his dog declared dangerous went on what Port St. Lucie, Florida. law enforcement officials called a shooting rampage that killed two neighbors, including an 11-year-old girl, and the gunman. WPTV reported that Guy Alexander Hansman, 55, and his daughter Harper Hansman, 11, were shot and killed by their neighbor, Ronald Delserro, 82, after returning from a court hearing where Delserro’s bull mastiff, “Roxy,” was declared dangerous. “They all came home from court and then the suspect armed himself and went to the victims’ house,” Sheriff Ken Mascara said at a news conference. After the young girl called 911,“Old Man” was rescued from the abuse police and sheriffs arrived at the Hansman house, where they exchanged gunfire with Delserro, who was armed with two handguns. It was not clear whether Delserro was killed by police or took his own life; one officer who was wearing a bulletproof vest was treated for a gunshot wound to the arm. Four other people in the house managed to escape. The neighborhood feud stemmed from a March 4 incident when Roxy attacked and bit a woman at the Hansmans’ house. “I believe this to be an intentional act of violence against these neighbors,” said Port St. Lucie Asst. Police Chief Richard DelToro.

 

Woman with Child Neglect History Charged with Animal Cruelty
A Pinellas Park, Florida, woman who had been charged with child neglect in 2013 was arrested on May 26 on a charge of felony animal cruelty after her dog was reportedly found dead in her back yard after being tied to a shed for multiple days without food or water. WFLA-TV reported that Sierra Manley, 27, told sheriff’s deputies she had been in Miami for several days while the dog was tied to the shed and that she knew about the dog’s passing and had texted a friend about the dog being dead and stinking.

 

Physical Therapist Sought for Alleged Fraud Charges with Homicide and Animal Cruelty

The father of a Connecticut family that hadn’t been seen in weeks was arrested in Celebration, Florida on four counts of homicide and one count of animal cruelty after the bodies of his wife, three young children and a dog were reportedly found inside a home on the outskirts of DisneyWorld. Anthony Todt, 44, was charged with the deaths of his wife Megan, 42, children Alek, 13, Tyler, 11, and Zoe, 4, and the family dog, “Breezy.” The family had previously lived in Colchester, Conn., but rented the Florida home last May while they were being evicted from their home and Todt, a physical therapist, was facing eviction from his office.

 

Teen, Dogs Rescued from Feces- and Cockroach-Filled Home
A Largo, Florida, couple were each arrested on a count of felony child abuseand child neglect, and their four dogs were taken into protective custody by Animal Services, after their malnourished 14-year-old son was reportedly found with bruises and marks on his legs and living in squalid conditions in a feces-filled mobile home infested with 1,000 cockroaches The Tampa Bay Times reported that Larry James Brown, 44, and Melanie Guy Brown, 36, had padlocked the refrigerator and freezer to keep their son from “stealing food.” The parents allegedly told police they would wake the boy up between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. and beat him unless he cleaned the house, which was filled with clutter. The boy, who had been found at 1 a.m. lying on the ground near a supermarket, was taken to a children’s hospital for medical evaluation.

 

Florida Businessman Charged with Child and Animal Abuse
Damon Becnel, 47, of Destin, Florida, was charged with child abuse and animal cruelty after his 14-year-old daughter told Okaloosa County Sheriff’s officers on Christmas Eve that she had been physically abused and allegedly provided investigators with a video of the incident from a security camera she had installed. The Walton Sun reported that the video purportedly shows Becnel pulling out a knife and threatening one of two dogs while yelling, “I will cut this [expletive deleted] dog’s eyeballs out.” He could later be seen striking the dog, grabbing it by the throat and throwing it to the floor while the child tells him to stop, and then struck the girl several times, according to the arrest report. She later escaped the house while he was asleep and walked several miles to a Wal-Mart where she bought a burner phone and called her babysitter. The arrest sparked a community backlash with the creation of a Facebook page, viewed more than 6,000 times, called “Justice for Daughter of Damon Becnel & Her Pets,” and re-ignited a bitter custody battle with the girl’s mother filing a petition for an injunction against domestic violence on behalf of the girl. The petition claims that Becnel has a criminal history, has committed or threatened domestic violence in the past, owns more than 20 guns, and has substance abuse issues and a history of mental health issues. Becnel was described as a prominent local businessman who is a managing partner of 26 businesses and is president of the Sandestin Police Department.

 

Shot Dog Survives Murder-Suicide Attack in Home of Sex Offender
Cape Coral, Florida police say a case where a mother, son and family dog were shot was a murder-suicide. The Fort Myers News-Press reported that police found the bodies of Joanne Lynn Walpole, 59, and her son, Michael Edward Walpole, 37. The investigation found that Joanne Walpole shot the dog, her son and then herself. The dog survived and was being cared for by Lee County Animal Control. Michael Walpole was a registered sex offender, having been convicted in 2012 of lewd or lascivious conduct on a minor. 

Legislation

 

2021 LEGISLATIVE WATCH
 
Florida HB 47 and SB 216 “Allie’s Law” would require veterinarians, technicians and other animal treatment provider employees to report suspected animal cruelty (at locations other than commercial food-producing animal operations) to authorities with immunity from civil and criminal liability, professional disciplinary action and employer retaliation. Failure to report would be grounds for disciplinary action. It would be a misdemeanor to destroy or alter medical records to conceal animal cruelty. Reporting at commercial food operations would be permissive. HB 49 and SB 218 would allow veterinary records to remain confidential if animal cruelty is reported as a means to protect veterinarians and to encourage such reports by making them feel safe to do so.

 

SB 96: would require child protective investigators and animal control officers to report suspected animal and child abuse. The bill also amends s. 828.27, F.S. relating to training for both animal control officers and child protective investigators. SB96 has passed both the Florida House and Senate unanimously.
 
HB 177: Tethering of Domestic Dogs and Cats 
Tethering of Domestic Dogs and Cats; Provides requirements for tethering domestic dogs & cats; provides penalties; provides for enforcement.
 
HB 45: Retail Sale of Domestic Dogs and Cats
Retail Sale of Domestic Dogs and Cats; Prohibits pet stores from selling or offering for sale domestic dogs & cats; provides penalties.

 

2020 Legislation
 
CS/SB 1082: Domestic Violence Injunctions
Domestic Violence Injunctions; Authorizing a court to take certain actions regarding the care, possession, or control of an animal in domestic violence injunctions, etc.
Approved by the Governor on June 18, 2020
 
CS/HB 705: Emergency Sheltering of Persons with PetsEmergency Sheltering of Persons with Pets; Requires DOE to assist DEM in determining strategies regarding evacuation of persons with pets; requires certain counties to designate shelter that can accommodate persons with pets; specifies requirements for such shelters.
Approved by the Governor, these provisions took effect: 7/1/2020

CS/CS/CS/SB 1414: Fish and Wildlife Activities
Prohibiting the keeping, possessing, importing, selling, bartering, trading, or breeding of certain species except for educational, research, or eradication or control purposes; including green iguanas and species of the genera Salvator and Tupinambis in such prohibition, etc.
Approved by the Governor, these provisions took effect: 7/1/2020
 
CS/CS/CS/SB 680: Shark Fins
Shark Fins; Citing this act as the “Kristin Jacobs Ocean Conservation Act”; prohibiting the import, export, and sale of shark fins in this state; providing exceptions; requiring the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to evaluate the potential economic impacts to the commercial shark fishing industry in this state; requiring the commission to review the potential impact on shark populations; requiring a report to the Legislature by a specified date; authorizing the Legislature to impose a ban on the domestic production of shark fins based upon the findings of the report, etc.
Approved by the Governor, these provisions took effect:: 10/1/2020

Advisory Board

Tara Wildes serves as a Director at the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office Corrections Division, a consultant on corrections issues with Wildes, Bowen & Associates and as an adjunct instructor with Florida State College at Jacksonville. Tara worked for over 30 years throughout the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, primarily in the correctional environment.  She retired in 2016 with the appointed rank of Director of the Department of Corrections, managing three correctional facilities and the Jacksonville Reentry Center, with over 3400 incarcerated persons, 800 employees and a budget of over 90 million dollars.  She was certified by the state of Florida in both corrections and law enforcement and continues to an instructor by the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission of Florida. Tara returned to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office in 2020 as their Reentry Coordinator prior to her appointment as Director at the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office Corrections Division.  She also serves on the boards of Disability Rights Florida, NAMI Jacksonville, Prisoners of Christ and StopTB USA, representing the rights of the incarcerated population and is an advocate for criminal justice and mental health reform.

 

Tracy Sampson serves as the Regional Coordinator for the Florida Department of Education Office of Safe Schools serving Nassau, Baker, Duval, Union, Bradford, Clay, St. Johns, Alachua, Putnam, Flagler, Marion, Citrus, Sumter, Lake, Seminole, and Volusia Counties, as well as P.K Yonge at University of Florida and Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. She is based in the region and travels to visit schools and district offices to provide technical assistance and training, and to verify local compliance with school safety laws. Tracy is a FortifyFL administrative user for each of the districts in her region. Prior to joining the Office of Safe Schools Tracy had 13 years' experience in Education, 2.5 years as a trainer for educators and 1.5 years as a School Safety Specialist for the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. Tracy has a B.S. in Paralegal Studies; M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction. Tracy is a certified trainer for Comprehensive Student Threat Assessment Guidelines (CSTAG) and AlerT Training (active shooter response plan).

 

Susan Gillespy has been in the Northeast Florida area since 1969. After attending Orange Park High School she earned a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Jacksonville University. She then furthered her education, earning her Master's degree in Counseling Psychology at the University of North Florida as well as becoming a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). Susan has extensive post-graduate training in Natural Systems Theory, one of the oldest and most respected theories in family counseling. She also specializes in Ericksonian techniques. Both schools of therapy focus on respecting the uniqueness of each individual. 
Susan is both a counselor and dog trainer, and completed her Master's degree in 1996 from the University of North Florida. She obtained her professional canine education at Animal Behavior College and has been training dogs in the Jacksonville area since 2010. She is a member of two professional animal trainer organizations, the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) as well as the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC). She is also a Knowledge- Assessed Certified Professional Dog Trainer and credentialed by CCPDT.  Susan’s most recently became a Certified Force Free Trainer.

 

Bio Elder Protection
Bio Domestic Violence

 

Kelly Anderson Coordinator of the North Florida Link Project is a proud Florida native. Kelly is driven to find innovating new ways to effectively use research, data and statistics to expand community awareness of the Link. She is focused on issues that impact Floridians and as the Coordinator of the Link Project, her goal is simple- to prevent abuse through Link education, advocating new legislation, and promoting Action!

 

Resource Materials, Research & website content provided by: Phil Arkow, Coordinator of the National Link Coalition. Special thanks to Phil Arkow for providing the essential tools and support needed to bring the LINK to North Florida.