Vet trying to get pet from Humane Society jailed
A popular Vero veterinarian was handcuffed by a sheriff’s deputy and hauled off to jail Monday when she accompanied her assistant to the Humane Society to get the assistant’s dog, which had been picked up by Animal Control while running loose Friday.
Humane Society director Chalmers Morse and Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Whittington agreed that veterinarian Sara Mathews was “not creating a disturbance” in the lobby of the Humane Society, but she was nevertheless arrested for trespassing when she insisted on staying with assistant Sylvie Johnson, the dog’s owner.
“The owner of the dog and the animal control officer needed to talk without Sara in the middle,” said Morse, who described Mathews as “not jumping up and down but, in my opinion, unpleasant.”
“Dr. Sara wasn’t unpleasant; she didn’t say one word,” said Johnson.
Deputy Daniel Whittington, who told Mathews he would have to arrest her if she didn’t leave, said the vet responded “Do what you have to do,” whereupon he handcuffed her and walked her to the squad car, said Morse.
Matthews was released after posting a $500 bond a few hours later.
The bizarre sequence of events began Friday when 13-month-old Peanut, a male Boxer mix, escaped from Johnson’s yard. A woman walking her two Yorkies called city Animal Control, afraid that the big dog running down the side of the road might hurt them.
On Saturday, Mathews and Johnson went to the Humane Society to retrieve Peanut, but were told that dogs could not be released on a weekend because the authorizing officer was not there, and the owner would have to come back on Monday.
Mathews, who said she and Johnson were concerned that the dog had to spend three days in a cage at the Humane Society, told officers on site that the hold was punitive and unnecessary because they were there to get it.
But she and Johnson left and came back Monday, as instructed, to get the dog.
Morse said that because staff said Mathews was “demanding” on Saturday, he was concerned she would “cause a fuss” when she returned Monday and asked her to leave.
After Mathews was taken off to the county jail, animal control officer Bruce Dangerfield gave Johnson a ticket because her dog had been “running at large.” Johnson paid a $40 in-pound fee and received a $115 citation, Humane Society assistants returned Peanut to her, and she left.
Matthews told Vero Beach 32963 that her “hope is to stop animal control from putting unnecessary holds on animals in the shelter.”
“What happened is unfortunate all of the way around,” said Morse. “But we hope it doesn’t become a bigger deal than it already is.”
Mathew’s attorney Julia Graves said she was meeting with counsel for the Humane Society Tuesday “so that we can work this out.”