A family from Florence County, South Carolina was ecstatic to finally reunite with their beloved German shepherd after he was taken by animal control officers. However, the process of getting him back wasn’t easy as it required a staggering 300,000 signatures. It all started when Liliana Arellano returned home from her errands on May 1 only to find a green notice from the Florence County Environment Services Division informing her that they had found a German shepherd that might belong to her and that she had 15 days to retrieve him.
As soon as Friday afternoon rolled around, Arellano wasted no time in calling the phone number provided by the organization. Unfortunately, her attempts were fruitless as there was no answer. Determined to retrieve her furry friend, she then turned to Facebook to reach out to the organization. However, much to her dismay, she was informed that she would not be able to pick him up until Monday. Come Monday morning, Arellano arrived at the organization’s location eager to reunite with her pet. However, she was met with a shocking surprise – her pet had been deemed “dangerous” by a neighbor and the case had now escalated to court proceedings. This sudden turn of events left Arellano and her family bewildered and confused as they had never encountered such an issue before.
Leo had been picked up by animal control, but it was unfair since he had never bitten anyone or shown any signs of aggression towards humans or animals. He was simply in his own yard when a neighbor, who was afraid of him, made a complaint to animal control. Arellano expressed her frustration at the situation, questioning what it meant for a dog to simply scare someone and emphasizing that just because someone may be scared of dogs does not necessarily mean the dog is dangerous.
Things took a turn for the worse when the shelter refused to release Leo, citing safety concerns, on Monday. The family was informed that legal action would need to be taken to retrieve their beloved pet, and a court date was scheduled a month away – in spite of the law stating that the hearing should occur within five days. The human society appeared to have little urgency towards resolving the situation, frequently clashing with the sheriff’s department over how to proceed, despite the fact that they lacked jurisdiction. Leo was kept in confinement during this period, which the family found distressing. They were not permitted to visit or care for him in any way, leading to concerns over his wellbeing.
According to a witness, Leo the dog had been hiding under the family’s porch when Environmental Services found him and allegedly used a taser on him before dragging him away. The family was devastated and turned to Change.org to start a petition, as well as reaching out to law enforcement and local government officials to demand that Leo be returned. With the help of over 300,000 signatures on their petition, the family was able to successfully get Leo released. However, the battle is not over yet as there is still a hearing to determine whether or not Leo will be classified as a dangerous dog. The family is determined to continue fighting for justice for their beloved pet.
Our efforts to ensure that the facility and County are held responsible for their conduct and mishandling of the facility are ongoing. Leo’s experience serves as a cautionary tale for all of us. Please feel free to spread his story with your loved ones.