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beach , FL news
Pit bulls that
charged Belleair Beach woman and puppy
had killed cats in Belleair Bluffs
By Rita Farlow, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Wednesday, September 30, 2009
BELLEAIR BLUFFS — Two
pit bull terriers that charged a Belleair
Beach woman and her puppy last week
killed two cats this spring and maimed
another, authorities said.
Dogs in Pinellas County
can be declared dangerous and euthanized
if they injure or kill pets more than
So why weren't the dogs
seized before Friday's incident?
County Animal Services
director Welch Agnew said his agency
opened an investigation in April, but
was unable to locate the dogs' owner,
Timothy Franklin Montgomery, until July.
At that point, the investigation
still was ongoing and an officer found
the dogs secured and well behaved, Agnew
said. But he acknowledged the multiple
reports of pet attacks would have allowed
Animal Services to take custody of the
"If we had that
to do over again, we'd have snagged
them in July," he said.
The pit bulls, a male
named Cushman and a female named Nina,
were taken to Animal Services on Friday
after they aggressively approached Caroline
Sofer, and her puppy, Cody, in her front
Animal Services already
was investigating three other attacks
in Montgomery's old neighborhood in
• A March 7 attack that
killed a pet cat in front of a parent
• An April 15 attack
that left a 17-year-old cat dead.
• An April 16 attack
that severed the leg muscles of a cat.
The cat lived after emergency surgery,
said Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda.
In the April 15 incident,
the two dogs were running loose when
they came into the yard of Grif and
Phyllis Graham, who are in their 80s.
The male dog snatched their cat, Mrs.
Murphy, as she was drinking water.
Marvin Floyd, a landscaper
who tends the Grahams' yard, tried to
intervene. He positioned himself in
front of his client to protect her,
grabbed a rake and started hitting the
male dog, Floyd said.
"I just kept hitting
and finally he let loose (of the cat),
then the other dog circled around behind
me, so I basically had to keep hitting
both of them to get them out of the
yard," said Floyd, 65. "It
was scary. They were determined."
Mrs. Murphy had to be
euthanized, the Grahams said.
In that incident, a
sheriff's deputy cited Montgomery with
two counts of dogs running at-large.
And an Animal Services officer issued
Montgomery a citation for not having
a registration tag for the male dog.
Animal Services opened
an investigation at the end of April,
Welch said. When Montgomery, 20, was
located, he was cited for a dangerous
dog violation and given an August court
date. Montgomery did not show up and
he was arrested on Sept. 21 on a warrant
for failure to appear on that charge.
Four days later, on
Friday, the same day the dogs came after
Sofer, Montgomery was arrested again
for failing to appear on several other
charges, including battery, leaving
the scene of an accident with property
damage and possession of marijuana.
He posted $2,039 bail and was released
from the Pinellas County Jail an hour
after he was booked.
No one answered the
door at Montgomery's 405 Maxwell Place
address Tuesday night.
At some point after
the three cats were attacked, Montgomery
moved to Indian Rocks Beach, near Sofer's
home. After the dogs charged Sofer and
her Doberman pinscher puppy, a deputy
was able to lure the pit bulls into
his cruiser with dog treats.
The Grahams said they
were upset that the dogs were menacing
a new neighborhood.
"I think it's a
shame that the county hasn't done something
about those dogs before now," Phyllis
Graham said. "They should have
been impounded, and they should have
been put to sleep."
Rita Farlow can be reached
at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4157.