A Florence County, South Carolina family was finally able to pick up their German shepherd, after he was taken from their yard by animal control officers, but it took 300,000 signatures to do it.
On May 1, Liliana Arellano returned to her home after running errands and rather than being greeted by her German shepherd, Leo, she discovered a green notice from the Florence County Environment Services Division notifying her “We have a German shepherd we think belongs to you. You have 15 days to pick him up.”
It was Friday afternoon so Arellano immediately called the phone number but there was no answer. She then reached out to them on Facebook and was told she had to wait until Monday to pick him up. She said:
“We immediately contacted them on Facebook and they were like you can’t pick him up today,” said Arellano. “So Monday morning, first thing when we arrive, they were like this is a bigger case than we thought and we’d have to go to court to get him back, apparently he was deemed ‘dangerous’ by a neighbor and of course we didn’t understand because this had never happened to us.”
The thing was, Leo had not bit any person or animal and did not have a history of aggressive behavior. He was inside his own yard when he was picked up. Apparently animal control was called because a neighbor was scared of Leo and decided to make a complaint.
“Every time we ask if he bit anyone, they are like, ‘No he just scared the neighbors,’” said Arellano. “I was like, ‘well he’s scared, and what does that mean? What if a person is just scared of dogs?’"
The situation went from bad to worse when on Monday when the shelter allegedly refused to release Leo claiming he was dangerous. The family was told they would have to go to court to get Leo back and a date was set for one month away, despite the law saying the court date should happen within 5 days.
Despite multiple attempts to get Leo back, the human society dragged their feet even differing in opinion on how to handle the case than the sheriff’s department, who did not have jurisdiction.
WMBF New reported, “The Florence County Sheriff’s Office does not have jurisdiction in the case, but they did make recommendations on how it should be handled. The sheriff’s office said Environmental Services decided to go in a different direction.”
In the meantime, Leo was confined to a cell in the shelter. The family expressed their fears that Leo was "scared, lonely, confined to a cell, and was starting to go kennel crazy." They were not allowed to visit, walk, or bath Leo while he was there.
A witness came forward that claimed, “Leo had been on the family's property under the porch when Environmental Services approached him. They reportedly tazed the dog and dragged him to the vehicle.”
In desperation the family began a Change.org petition, reached out to the sheriff’s department, and contacted the Florence County Administrators Office claiming they had no right to take Leo.
After the public got involved, they soon had 300,000 signatures of their change.org petition and Leo was released. However, there is another hearing scheduled to determine if Leo will be deemed a dangerous dog and the family is still pressing for justice for Leo.
"We are continuing to push to hold the facility and County accountable for their actions and their mismanagement of the facility."
If it could happen to Leo, it could happen to any of us. Please share his story with your family and friends.
Lorraine villalvay says
I can’t believe how this behavior is acceptable taking a family’s beloved pet with no prior complaint, or justification, is reprehensible. There needs to be justice for this family. The laws need to be changed it this county for animals.
I hope those people in charge of that facility have been fired along!!!! And for the people who caused the dog to be taken in the first place I hope they got their just dues!!!!!! Florence County South Caroline Animal Control certainly needs
Instruction when judging a dog by a disgruntled dog person!!! In case you do not know this, YOU NEVER TAKE ONE PERSONS COMPLAINT TO PUNISH ANOTHER PERSON!!! I hope the persons in charge of doing all the wrong
To the dog owners have been punished, if not SHAME ON THE PERSON
RESPONSIBLE IN CHARGE OF DISCIPLINE!!!! Keep in mind “What comes round….goes round!!!You certainly do owe the owner more than one apology!!!
Jeremy H says
Good thing these animal control people didn’t do this to me and take my dog from my property. I would have people to inflict harm on anyone working in the office until my dog was returned. You touch mine without cause and I’m coming for your head don’t give a F don’t touch mine if you don’t want the fire…
justice for Leo….. They need a petition for some busybody to do jail time for causing this family and Leo pain and suffering for false allegations made…
Your neighbors need they ass whooped for that. I would so be in jail over my baby and I have 3. God got you and your baby.🥰
Mary McGaughy says
I have seen this happen so many times and it's so heartbreaking to the families and to the animals of the innocent pets. Once it happened to a women's two Rottweiler's got out of their fence and ran down the road. The two dogs didn't mean any harm but the size and the human fear factor of these two dogs made the neighbors jump to conclusions. The neighbors accused the dogs of biting a little girl while she was playing in her yard and the neighbors attacked the two dogs and beat them so badly that they had to be hospitalized by their human mother who came looking for them. She also got beaten by the neighbors. The dogs later were locked away for seven long years in an Animal Shelter for something they did not do. The whole story was made up because of because people were terrified of Rottweiller's. So these two dogs paid the price. After seven long years in confinement and long trials and thousands upon thousands of dollars spent by their human mother who lost her whole savings trying to save her dogs. She finally had to give them up because of the greedy politicians in government who ran the offices of the mayor, the police, the animal control, and the environment departments. They would not release her dogs to her because they were afraid she would sue them. She had a good case against them but they were so afraid that after seven long years behind doggie jail, they couldn't take the chance of her suing so she and her dogs suffered. So she lost her dogs and they had to go to another person's home. While there they both died, one of cancer and the other of another disease. This was the most heartbreaking animal story I have ever had to deal with in my life. This poor woman had also lost her mother during this whole ordeal because they had promised her that the dogs would get to come home during the holidays but they didn't follow through on their promise and it broke her mother's heart. She loved these two dogs like her own children as she was never married and had children of her own and they were like her babies. The other tale they told on these dogs is that not only that the dogs had bitten a little child but they had dragged a grandmother by her neck and that had never happened either and I don't know how these people sleep at night with telling these big lies on these two precious dogs and getting away with this after all these years. It still haunts me to this day that these awful men are still in power and do the same thing to other people and lock up people animals.
I use to take my dog to group dog training, while I was waiting my turn, a little girl walked between myself, my dog and another participant. We were sitting on the log fence, anyway, the little girl walked between us and the the other lady that was sitting on the other log fence (there was a gap between the log fence). One of the trainers stopped training and asked if my dog, who was on a lead and lying down, chased the girl. I had no idea she was talking to me and the lady sitting near us, responded with 'what are you talking about?'. Needless to say, that was the last time I went to that training, as this trainer had something against rescue dogs. I remember the first time I went, I had had my boy for about 7 months, she got a water spray bottle and kept squirting water on him to keep him in check. She even had the audacity to say that 'you never know what you get with a rescue!' I've always only had rescue dogs. I really did not enjoy that first night. Lucky the other times we went, we got good trainers, ones that actually cared for all dogs, not just 'pure breed' ones. But that night, I decided I would rather get a private trainer.
Debbie Saporta says
Susan Cook says
My family had a similar experience with the family German Shepherd. We were lucky, in that the Council sent the animal control officer to our home, to talk to my parents after receiving a complaint. This is how it went:
Officer knocks on front door and Mum answers it.
Our dog approaches the officer and sits next to him, licks his hand.
Officer tells Mum he is there to talk about her “savage” German Shepherd, while he is patting the dog and getting drooled on.
Mum says she doesn’t own a savage dog.
Officer says, Council received a complaint about a savage dog at the premises.
Mum replies, We only have one dog, and there she is, pointing to the dog, next to him.
Officer looks at Mum, then looks at our dog, happily enjoying the attention, and says- never mind, have a nice day. He gives our dog another pat and then leaves. Never heard another word about any complaints.
Arvella Williams says
The dog was on its property under the porch and did NOT bite or attack anyone. It should have NEVER been picked up. The police should have told the neighbor that was scared of him and dogs to just stay away from him. This is WRONG! RETURN THE DOG TO THEIR OWNERS ASAP! They should turn around and sue ALL the ones involved in taking their dog; including the neighbor.
Jay James says
I shared. Government overreach at its worst.
Angela Rose says
What is wrong with them people? They need to be trained or tested for job competency.
Suzanne Gentile says
This should never happen to any animal. First they don't understand what is happening to them. They are scared and confused. Their hearts are broken thinking they are not wanted after being taken away. I feel bad for the family that had to go through such heartache. This dog was doing nothing wrong and should not have been tazed. ANIMALS HAVE RIGHTS!
Louise Philbrick says
This should have never happened...Leo was on his own property ...poor furbaby should be at homwe with his family...all the people involved with taking leo and not returning him to his family deserve a stiff law suit against them...release this precious furbaby and send him home.
I think all parties involved should be sued, especially the neighbor who made such as idiotic complaint and the person who tased the dog…. How about some justice for the victims….the owners and the dog😌
Cheryl king says
a good result for an unjust situation. I love dogs !