The Commissioners in Bay County, Florida, are determined to kill Marley. Marley has been confined in a cell for months, unable to even get comfort from physical contact with his family until just recently. Marley’s family misses him and desperately wants him back. The children, including the teenager he nipped while roughhousing, all want him back. But the Bay County attorney didn’t like the magistrate’s decision (because he didn’t send the dog to be killed), so she took an unprecedented step.
In Bay County, Florida, county attorney Jennifer Shuler didn’t like the magistrate’s decision and, as reported in the NWFDailyNews.com, “For the first time, Bay County commissioners have decided to appeal a magistrate’s ruling in an attempt to euthanize a dog that bit a 15-year-old on two occasions.” Attorney Jason Johnson confirmed that this is the first time in the history of Bay County that a county attorney has done this.
The family, according to Johnothan Jones, the owner, doesn’t believe that Marley bit the teenager twice.
It all started when the family’s 15-year-old son was playing roughly with the five year old while wearing a mask and brandishing a toy gun. Marley got protective of the younger child and nipped the older boy. Once the older child took off his mask, Marley immediately realized who it was and stopped nipping.
However a neighbor decided to take it upon herself to call the authorities and Marley was quarantined on the family’s property for ten days. Unfortunately, on the tenth day, the same older son began playing rough with Marley in the house, and Marley got overexcited. When the boy leaned down to take off the dog’s leash, the dog jumped on him. The scratches were what the neighbor saw when the boy went outside.
Marley is one of a group of special dogs rescued from horrible lives on the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan. Nowzad Animal Rescue brought him to the US after Jones found him on the streets of Kabul as a young puppy and rescued him. Marley has lived with the family and played with the children. The family also has five cats. One was a pregnant mother cat Johnson rescued, and after the kittens were born they would climb on Marley and play. Not exactly what one might picture from a so-called “dangerous dog.”
Marley is almost five years old. According to Jones, who worked in Afghanistan with US soldiers, “Afghan dogs and dogs throughout that region of the world are known as “Free Range Dogs”. They are pack-oriented and are very protective, very “street smart” and tuned in. My sons playing cops and robbers and the 15 year old wearing a mask sparked his protection mode which caused him to intervene to protect my five year old.”
Many people want to see Marley released. Florida officials, though, seem intent on killing Marley. An article from The News Herald dated January 8 states that people from all over the world are emailing county officials to beg that Marley be released from his cell. There is more information on the Facebook page Free Marley.
Florida legislators are in the process of trying to clarify Florida law so that these types of transgressions will not happen in the future. Unfortunately, it might be too late for Marley. Please visit his Facebook page. Sign the petition. There is also a GoFundMe site to raise money for Marley’s legal defense (mostly just costs as the attorney is doing much of the work for free).
This is the email that Jones is asking people send to help Marley’s cause:
Subject: Agenda Item for March 1st, 2016
Bay County Code Section 4-70 (or Section 4-410) are based on Florida Statute 767.13(2). This section authorizes the destruction of a dog who inflicts a severe injury to a person, but has never been declared dangerous. The 12th Judicial Circuit of Florida, in case #2015-CA-003844) has recently declared this section of the Florida Statute to be unconstitutional. Looking at the statute (and the Bay County Code) from a rational, common sense perspective, it is easy to see why.
A severe injury, as defined by both Florida Statute 767.11(3) and Bay County Code 4-62 / 4-402, is any “physical injury that results in broken bones, multiple bites, or disfiguring lacerations requiring sutures or reconstructive surgery.” By this definition, a dog who bites an intruder multiple times while trying to protect a homeowner from harm, is subject to be destroyed by Bay County.
If the dog is facing prosecution under Florida Statute 767.13(2) or Bay County Code Section 4-70 / 4-410, he or she may request a hearing within 10-days. However, this hearing will only decide whether or not the dog inflicted a severe injury and not whether the dog was justified in doing so. Bay County, currently, is of the opinion that under Florida Statute 767.13(2) mandates the destruction of a dog in such a position.
Furthermore, the Bay County Code does not appear to include a mirroring section of Florida Statute 767.12, which provides many defenses of provocation available to a dog.
As a citizen of Bay County, I ask that this issue be placed on the agenda for the March 1st commission meeting in order to amend or clarify the Bay County Code to protect dogs and their owners from unjust destruction.
You just need to place your name at the bottom and send it to the following people at these email addresses:
You can also email the county attorney’s superior with your thoughts. Terrell Arline’s email is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please share Marley’s story and email the county commissioners. This injustice needs to be stopped. When the state legislators themselves recognize that the law is not just and are working to correct it, county officials should certainly do the same. Jones and his family believe that Marley is not a dangerous dog. He thought he was protecting the five-year-old son of the house. When people wear masks, dogs don’t recognize them. As soon as the teenager took off the mask, the dog knew who it was.
A family’s hope rests on the county commissioners doing the right thing. Their attorney, Jason Johnson, who loves animals and has four dogs and three cats of his own, said that “this law has been found unconstitutional several times in other counties.”
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