Monkey’s owner given probation

OKEECHOBEE — Tina Ballard, the woman who was arrested last year after her pet spider monkey attacked an employee in the Home Depot parking lot, pleaded no contest to two counts of non-native captive wildlife level two violations, one count failure to immunize an animal on exhibit and one count culpable negligence personal injury. She was sentenced to six months of probation for the first three counts and one year probation for the fourth count, to be served concurrently.

Ms. Ballard’s troubles began in June 2018 when she reportedly went into Home Depot, leaving her spider monkey, Spanky, in her truck in the parking lot. Somehow, while Ms. Ballard was inside the store, Spanky got out of the truck and was running around the parking lot when an employee, Marilyn Howard, saw her and attempted to catch her so she would not get hurt. She was able to grab her leash, but Spanky jumped on her back and bit her twice. She continued to hold the leash and waited with Spanky near the door in the hope the owner would soon appear, but when the door opened, Spanky was spooked again, and bit Ms. Howard on the arm and scratched her face.

A condition of Ms. Ballard’s probation is that she is not to possess any class one, two or three wildlife at any time but may live in a home with someone who possesses this wildlife as long as she herself does not have possession. Class one wildlife are those considered dangerous: lions, tigers, chimpanzees. Class two are those considered potentially dangerous: cougars, wolves, macaques. Class three wildlife includes all wildlife not listed as class one or two.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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