Pit Bull shot and killed after attacking VA Service Dog

City of Fernandina Beach Police Department
Press Release
News Contact:James T. Hurley, Chief of Police
July 18, 2018 5:19 p.m.

At 10:30 this morning the Fernandina Beach Police Department responded to a report of a dog off leash aggressively attacking a restrained dog while in the parking lot of the Fernandina Beach Animal Clinic, located at 1868 South 14th Street.

According to witnesses at the scene, the owner of the restrained animal, James Strickland, a 70 year old Army veteran with a valid Florida Concealed Firearms License, continued to restrain his dog while two individuals attempted to pull the Pit bull from the angry attack. As the dogs were momentarily separated Strickland twice announced his intention to shoot the attacking animal if it could not be restrained. Once again the Pit bull broke free from its handlers and once again attacked Strickland’s dog. Strickland produced a .38 caliber handgun and fired twice at the Pit bull from very close range. According to witnesses, Strickland never pointed the weapon at any person, nor were any individuals in harm’s way when he discharged his firearm.

The victim animal was not seriously injured, but did sustain visible scratches. Strickland’s dog is a Weimaraner breed named Betty Boop and is a VA service animal.

The Pit bull, named Dozer and owned by Althea Brown, died immediately at the scene from two gunshot wounds. The dog’s primary owner was not at the scene. The Pit bull was reportedly taken to the animal clinic for ring worn treatment by Mouhamadou Moustapha Ba and Courtney Scott, who also claim to own the dog. Ms. Scott claimed that the Pit bull slipped out of its collar as it was being put in their vehicle.

Florida Statutes 767.03 provides for defense in killing a dog if it is believed that the attacking dog is intent on killing a domestic animal or livestock. When interviewed, Mr. Strickland felt strongly that this attack would be fatal for his dog. At this time it is not believed that the Pit bull has ever been declared “dangerous,” which in some dog attack cases results in temporary impoundment pending a hearing, as well as possible criminal charges for the dog’s owners.