Zeus Gets a Temporary Reprieve – Supporters Gather – Comments from Behaviorist
Zeus, the Florida German Shepherd that bit the Verizon repairman, was scheduled to be put down on on Friday, June 22. Due to the fact that his owner, Mr. Otero is appealing the order, Zeus has been granted a temporary reprieve.
On Friday, the Oteros filed a motion in [Judge Phyllis] Galen’s court for another appeal after learning Galen had not had a request from an attorney for Zeus to be transferred to another state. This appeal is an official request to have Zeus put under the care of Barbara Duval who trains animals to be service dogs.
“If she (Galen) denies the motion, that’s it,” Ana Otero said. “If this is a small sliver of hope, I have to take it.”
The Oteros planned to appeal to the Governor and an e-mail campaign to Gov. Charlie Crist’s office was started by SDA to try to get Zeus a reprieve.
Thomas Philpot, deputy press secretary for Crist issued the following statement through e-mail, Friday.
“Gov. Charlie Crist feels compassion for Zeus and his owners and appreciates the many Floridians who have expressed concerns to the Governor’s office. At this time, this issue is a judicial matter that rests in Florida’s court system.” (The Venice Gondolier)
We have also heard ‘the other side of the story‘ in which there were numerous differences between the Oteros’ version and Flick’s version.
Yesterday supporters gathered in the Sarasota County Animal Services parking lot hoping to make a difference.
“Today we really just want to bring awareness to the situation and hopefully saves Zeus’s life.” Protestors come out Saturday to persuade those in charge to reverse the sentence of death for Zeus. The dog bit a Verizon repairman several times inside his owner’s home and now waits inside Sarasota County Animal Services.
“Here is this dog that unfortunately got in this situation to protect his owner and people see that and don’t want this to just become a norm. That Okay this is one exception and the same thing is going to happen to other animals,” says Donna Paige protest organizer.
State law says if a dog causes multiple bites and serious injury even though it may be the first offense it can be destroyed. A magistrate and judge had a decision and chose death.
Those protesting say Zeus can be trained and saved. A group in Tennessee has stepped up and wants to train him to work with the military or police. “With dogs it’s a lot of drive and energy levels and when they don’t have any rules or boundaries or anything they just drive on instincts,” says Michael Harvey of K-9 Coach Dog Training. “Do you have any doubt that a dog like Zeus could be rehabilitated? Absolutely. I think all dogs have a chance to be rehabilitated.” (MySuncoast.com)
Seems the Oteros have overwhelming support in their efforts to save Zeus. Another supporter is Constantine, a commenter who posted on all the boards on the stories about Zeus. Constantine says she is one of the behaviorists who evaluated Zeus, pro bono, at the behest of the Oteros. Following is her comment.
I have the facts.
Iâ€™m the behaviorist in the blue t-shirt seen walking Zeus on the news video. No, I wasnâ€™t at the Oteroâ€™s home at the time of the incident, but I was at the latest trial where his execution was upheld. I also saw pictures of the wounds admitted into evidence and heard arguments, however, the judge would not allow me to testify.
The facts of this case are simple, Zeus bit the repairman. According to Florida law, that gives the Sheriffâ€™s Department the right to classify him in one of two ways. Either they can declare him dangerous and return him to his owner under strict guidelines, or, if they find that the dog has bitten before or has severely injured or killed a person, they can decide to kill him. A deputy chose to classify Zeus in the latter category.
For this classification to be correct, it means that Zeus must have previously bitten, severely injured, or killed a person. We know he hasnâ€™t previously bitten or killed anyone, so that just leaves severely injured. Iâ€™m not a medical expert, but Iâ€™ve seen A LOT of bite wounds and the Verizon repairmanâ€™s injuries, which required not one stitch, were definitely on the minor end of the severity spectrum.
This big German Shepherd has the power to dismember a person, yet Zeus did not produce one injury that needed a stitch, and none of the wounds were to the face, neck, or head. I found no evidence of bi-directional tearing (consistent with injuries produced when a dog bites down and thrashes his head), which would indicate that the dog was trying to inflict serious damage.
According to Mrs. Otero, some of the scrapes and scratches were probably the result of the repairman stumbling and falling during the incident. Also, I heard evidence stating that when the man fell, at no time did Zeus try to get on top of him or try to hold him down. Itâ€™s my opinion that the dog was only trying to chase away the flailing repairman because he saw him as a threat to his disabled owner.
Itâ€™s for these reasons that many people believe Zeus was improperly classified by the Sheriffâ€™s Department, and should therefore not be destroyed. Unfortunately, the judge made the decision to uphold the previous ruling without admitting important evidence (including my testimony and the video at Animal Services seen on the news).
And she was also kind enough to take the time to comment on one of my stories here
Iâ€™m one of the 2 behaviorists who evaluated Zeus at the facility where heâ€™s been confined since March. Iâ€™ve made a study of canine behavior and my credentials include a BA in the Behavioral Sciences with a 3.9 GPA after studying at Purdue University for 3 years and USF for 1. Over the past 3 years, Iâ€™ve rehabilitated scores of aggressive shelter dogs and troubled family pets. In addition, I daily manage a pack of 20+ dogs (many of which have been considered dangerous and unadoptable).
I was at the latest trial and waited to take the stand, but the judge refused to allow me to testify, and also chose not to view the video of both evaluations of Zeus performed at the Sheriffâ€™s Animal Services facility. After refusing to view key evidence, she later upheld the previous judgeâ€™s order to kill Zeus.
On top of evaluating Zeus, I also had the opportunity to hear arguments in the trial and see the pictures of the wounds which were admitted into evidence. Now Iâ€™m not a medical expert, but Iâ€™ve seen a lot of bite wounds, and on the whole these wounds were pretty minor. Also, after hearing directly from witnesses about how the incident went down, itâ€™s my opinion that the dog was only trying to get the flailing repairman away from his disabled owner, and not trying to inflict serious damage.
I donâ€™t know much about the other behaviorist brought in to evaluate Zeusâ€¦ just that he runs a facility where, among other forms of training, he does police dog training. His specialties also include aggressive dogs. Without ever meeting or communicating with one and other, our reports agreed completely that Zeus was in no way a vicious animal and that he should not be destroyed.
Let me know if you have any questions.
Based on the public outcry and the incredible amount of comments left with the 3 original Tampa Bay 10 stories as well as the reports by two separate behaviorists, how can the governor and the judges not listen?
For additional information and background, take a moment to check out the previous stories;
- The Question – To Put the Dog Down or Not? A Travesty of Justice!!
- Owners of â€˜Death Rowâ€™ Dog May Appeal to Governor
- Update on Zeus, â€˜Doomed Dogâ€™ – The Other Side of the Story
There are links to the original news stories there as well and also take a few minutes to read through some of the comments that are posted. There are hundreds and they are overwhelmingly in support of the Oteros and Zeus.
And I continue to stand by my opinion, spare Zeus’ life!!!
Â UPDATE 7/27/07 –ZEUS TO BE SET FREE!!!Â
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