What are the penalties for people caught abusing animals in Florida? – NBC 6 South Florida

This week, two videos circulated on social media showing dogs being punched, poked and prodded in South Florida. It has sparked outrage among Internet users and made us wonder: What can be done to hold these people accountable?

Earlier this week, Only in Dade posted a video of a dog being beaten multiple times in Homestead.

And another video — also sent to Only in Dade by an anonymous viewer — shows a dog being forcefully poked with a stick by its owner in North Miami. The dog is then brought in to be beaten several times.

Miami-Dade County Animal Services said if they don’t have evidence, or a witness willing to testify to what they saw, it makes it more difficult to prosecute the owners. At this time, both cases remain under investigation, leaving thousands of people on social media concerned for their well-being.

A viral video of an owner punching his dog in the face in Homestead has outraged thousands of people. This was reported by Sophia Hernandez of NBC6

“I found these videos very disturbing,” said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Kevin M. Cabrera. “I think, like anyone who would see this, it’s animal cruelty. It’s very clear what’s going on.”

NBC6 contacted all Miami-Dade commissioners and only two spoke on the subject. NBC6 also reached out to Mayor Danielle Levine Cava’s office for comment, and her office referred us to the county’s animal control agency.

Commissioners Cabrera and Rene Garcia said the county follows a state statute and Chapter 5 of the county code, which has fines starting at $1,000 and increasing depending on the crime and the number of animals involved.

State law states that those who commit animal cruelty can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor or fined $5,000. Those who attempt to harm someone else’s animal could be charged with a third-degree misdemeanor or fined $10,000. It also states that a person who is a repeat offender or commits animal cruelty against multiple animals can be charged separately for each act.

But in these cases where video is posted online, Garcia said more is needed to implement these statutes.

“If there is no witness who can testify or testify that they saw this, then it becomes very difficult for the District Attorney’s Office to prosecute these cases,” Garcia said.

Gabrielle Dominguez of Miami-Dade Animal Services echoed that sentiment.

“Often people see this animal abuse and immediately go to social media, and that sometimes hinders the investigation, as is happening now for one of these cases,” Dominguez said. “You send it in anonymously and then you don’t want to be involved in the case, and in order to be able to prosecute the person or persons involved in these cases, unfortunately we need the witness to come forward and say on this day and right now I recorded this video. They have to fill out a witness statement. And they may even have to testify in court.”

Dominguez said they are working on both cases, but anonymous videos on social media have hampered their investigation.

“That video, yes, it’s there, yes, we see what’s going on, but we can’t use it as evidence in court if that person doesn’t come forward,” she said. “So a lot of times, people run to social media and post these videos, and then people in the comments try to see where these people live, and they try to take matters into their own hands, and that definitely affects our research.”

“We don’t know when this video will be recorded; it might have been recorded last week and it’s just now being posted. They now just go to the person’s home,” Dominguez said. “When we go to do our investigation to check on the welfare of the animal, we can’t go in, the person is not there, because the person has already been alerted. that we come.”

The district commissioners assured, as in any criminal case, that those who reported the crime would be protected by law enforcement officers and the prosecutor’s office.

For the Homestead case, Miami-Dade police told NBC6 on Wednesday that detectives are still investigating and are “working with the Miami-Dade District Attorney’s Office to determine whether or not there is valid probable cause to suspect a to make an arrest.”

For the North Miami case, police said in a statement to NBC6 that they were aware of the video.

“North Miami Police Department investigators are working diligently to positively identify the person depicted in the video and locate the dog to assess and properly document the nature of any injuries,” the statement said in part. “The North Miami Police Department remains committed to protecting all animals. We will not renege on our commitment to hold all perpetrators of animal cruelty accountable for their action(s).”

They urged the community to report incidents of animal cruelty to 911. Anyone with information about the case can contact Detective Bohne at 305-891-0294.

Miami-Dade Animal Services said if you see anything, you are asked to call 311 or 911, and that these investigations can take a long time because these animals are considered someone’s property.

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