Gulfport Police Investigate Dog Drowning
The dog had a heavy chain around its neck, Guflport police say.
By Debbie Wolfe, Correspondent, TB Reporter
GULFPORT – A dog drowned last week after its owner threw it into Boca Ciega Bay with a heavy metal chain around its neck, according to Gulfport police.
Police said they are scheduled to meet Monday (Dec. 5) with state prosecutors to discuss the possibility of charging the owner with animal cruelty, a third-degree felony that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
The drowning happened about 4:30 p.m. Nov. 23, according to a police report. A man was playing with his dog on the beach and threw it off the dock at the Gulfport Casino, 5500 Shore Blvd. S.
The dog swam back to the beach to run around. When another dog came into the area, the owner put a chain with a padlock on it around his dog’s neck and “again threw the dog over the edge” of the Casino’s dock, Gulfport police spokesman Sgt. Thomas Woodman said.
“The chain was extremely heavy,” Woodman said. “The weight was estimated to be between 10 to 20 pounds. Due to the weight (of the chain), the dog was struggling.”
The dog’s weight is not known.
“The guy attempted to rescue his dog, but by the time he got to (it), it was too late,” Woodman said. “It was an unfortunate circumstance. It’s obviously a sensitive matter. It doesn’t appear to be intentional.”
Police said the man told them he forgot the chain was on the dog when he tossed the animal off the dock.
The male dog, named Rock, was a “medium-sized” pit bull breed about two years old, brown in color, and was “very muscular and strong,” Woodman said. Some people at the scene thought the animal was bred for dog fighting, but a police “officer inspected the dog and didn’t find any observable indications of that.”
Police also took statements from two juveniles who witnessed the event and said they have located a video recording from a nearby business.
“We pretty much have the entire thing on video,” Woodman said.
Police are not releasing the video or the name of the owner because it is an ongoing investigation and the owner has not been charged with a crime nor arrested.
Eagle Finegan, a Gulfport resident and photographer, arrived on the scene soon after the dog died to record the event’s aftermath with her camera.
“The kids who had witnessed it were still up on the pier crying, yelling, very upset,” Finegan said.
As she stood nearby while police interviewed the dog’s owner, she heard him say he was, “strength training” his pit bull and that he had done it before.
Finegan published four photos of a man, she said, is the dog’s owner on her Facebook page Friday (Nov. 25). By Wednesday (Nov. 30), the post had been shared more than 1,200 times.
One television station, WTSP-10 News, identified the owner as Joe Louis Bradford, 28, of St. Petersburg. He told the television reporter he was trying to get his dog in the water to clean off the fleas.
For information about Gulfport police, go to gulfportpolice.com.
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