Man accused of harming puppy

OKEECHOBEE — An Okeechobee man has been arrested for allegedly throwing a 6-month-old puppy over a 7-foot fence at the Okeechobee Animal Control office, then leaving it there over 14 hours with a broken leg, no food or water and no way to stay warm.

Jorge Samuel Hernandez, 34, S.W. 15th St., was arrested Thursday, Jan. 12, on a felony charge of aggravated animal cruelty and misdemeanor charges of obstruction by a disguised person and no valid driver’s license.

Hernandez has yet to go before a first appearance judge so his bond had not been set as of newspaper deadline.

An arrest report by Deputy James Hartsfield, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), indicated Hernandez — who initially gave the deputy the name of Eleazar Ramirez-Avila — said the brindle cur puppy was a stray and he was concerned the dog would become aggressive to children in his neighborhood.

According to the deputy’s report a man in a blue F-150 pickup truck could be seen on surveillance video backing up to the fence at the animal control facility Tuesday, Jan. 3, around 4:57 p.m. The man then got into the back of the truck, removed the 35-pound dog from a tether and threw it over the fence.

That fence, stated Deputy Hartsfield, is 6 foot in height with three strands barbed wire on top of it for a total height of 7 feet.

A surveillance camera captured images of a man, later identified as Jorge Hernandez, backing a pickup truck up to the fence at Okeechobee County Animal Control and throwing a puppy over the fence.

When the dog landed on the ground it fractured its right rear leg, noted the report.

“The surveillance video shows the dog limp and then lay down,” added the deputy.

The man then left the injured dog without food, water or medical treatment for at least 14 hours.

When Deputy Sergeant Arlene Durbin, who runs the facility for the sheriff’s office, arrived for work the next morning around 6:30 to 7 a.m. she found the injured dog. She then made arrangements for an emergency visit to North Lake Animal Hospital where x-rays confirmed the dog had a broken leg.

She then contacted Nalas New Life Rescue in Palm City who volunteered to treat the animal.

“The dog had the surgical procedure and the bones have been pinned back together,” noted Deputy Hartsfield.

So far, continued the report, the cost of treatment for the puppy is $1,016.

Hernandez reportedly told the deputy he would pay the medical costs.

“While typing this report I was contacted by (Detention Deputy) Corporal Kyle Schoonmaker of the Okeechobee County Jail. Cpl. Schoonmaker advised me he has fingerprinted Eleazar Ramirez-Avila through the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) and the fingerprints came back to Jorge Hernandez,” Deputy Hartsfield stated.

Hernandez, added the deputy, was also found to have an  active Okeechobee County arrest warrant charging him with failure to appear – driving while license suspended, which is a misdemeanor.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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