FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Neighbors in Fort Lauderdale complained of being trapped inside their homes, afraid to go outside or let their kids play in their yards. Several residents living on Southwest 12th Place said "vicious" dogs terrorize the neighborhood by getting out of their fenced yard.
They said the dogs have tried to attack people, and have bitten pets in the neighborhood and killed several cats.
“I was scared I was like terrified”, neighbor Jasmine Mann said the group of dogs tried to attack her one morning as she left for work, “I seen it chasing me. I jumped in the car.”
Alphonso Pickett pointed out a pile of bones where several neighbors, including children, described seeing the dogs kill a kitten.
“If you're not quick, they're right there”, Pickett said, “It's three huge dogs.”
Neighbors said the group of dogs live at a home across the street but frequently get out unsupervised and behave aggressively.
“It’s been scary, I mean you can't even come outside get in the car to go to work because the dogs chase you”, Pickett explained.
Local 10 News cameras witnessed the dogs at-large on one visit to the neighborhood. Several dogs appeared to get out through the backyard fence and began barking.
After several minutes the dogs’ owner opened the front door and called the animals inside. She refused to answer any questions about the dogs.
Neighbor Stephanie Palumbo said she no longer walks her dog down her own street after an attack on her pet.
“I started screaming for help, somebody help me please somebody help me!”, Palumbo said.
Her pet shih-tzu named Snoopy suffered bites to the throat when she said during a walk in December, the group of dogs surrounded her and one grabbed Snoopy by the neck.
“They were shaking him”, she said, “I thought my dog was going to die. I started crying I really thought my dog was going to die.” Snoopy was only freed when Palumbo says other neighbors helped out throwing rocks at the dogs. She ended up with a bill of nearly $500 for treatment and medication for her pet.
At last check, Broward Animal Care officers have cited the dogs’ owner Joshuatte McCloud six times, including the attack on Snoopy. Records show in October officers took eight dogs from the home, including four puppies due to poor living conditions. Days later, the four adult dogs were back at the house, and neighbors said back on the street.
In just the last month Local 10 has highlighted several attacks involving dogs that escaped their property, leading to serious injuries to people and the death of one man’s emotional support dog.
“You're not safe”, said one neighbor, “Little children aren't safe.”
Between Fiscal year 2016 and 2017 the amount of dog bites increased in Broward County according to Animal Care & Adoption. The county recorded a total of 679 bites in that time period but did not have the number on how many dogs officers seized.
The dog’s owner McCloud was due to appear at a court hearing on January 29th regarding her dogs, but failed to show up. She has another hearing scheduled in March at which time the County will make a determination about what happens with the dogs.
In the meantime, neighbors said they would continue to look over their shoulder.
“I won't go down there”, Palumbo said “I'm honestly scared to walk my own dog.”
“I can understand that you have a pet but if it's that vicious please secure it”, added Alphonso Pickett.
Lisa Mendheim, spokesperson for Broward County Animal Care and Adoption Division said in a statement:
The safety of Broward County residents and their pets is important. All dogs should be on a secure leash when off of their property to ensure safety of the pet and other Broward County residents and pets. If not secured to a leash when off their property, a dog may be considered “at-large.” Dogs that are at-large should be reported to Animal Care at 954-359-1313.
Regarding this case, two Hearings have been scheduled—one in January and one in March. At that time, testimony of the pet owner and witnesses will be heard by a Hearing Officer, who will then determine an outcome.