Manatee County commissioners forward threats about dog case to authorities

skennedy@bradenton.comNovember 20, 2013 

MANATEE -- Manatee County commissioners say they have forwarded threatening emails to law enforcement officials from people calling for the release of two dogs in county custody that attacked and seriously injured a young boy last year.

The county is holding the two dogs, named Buck and Bill, while appeals about court-ordered euthanasia proceed. Emails criticizing the actions have inundated commissioners.

"It's physically threatening us as commissioners," Commissioner Carol Whitmore said during Tuesday's board meeting.

She cited one of thousands of recent email messages she has received, which said, "I truly hope somebody rips

you people limb-from-limb for what you're doing to those two dogs."

The email came from a woman in Canada, Whitmore said.

"It does really concern me about the threats we're getting," said Commissioner Betsy Benac.

Commissioners and county officials have been inundated with thousands of emails and petitions berating them for a court decision they have no power to change, officials said.

The dog's owner has appealed lower court rulings, and the case now is awaiting a decision by a three-judge panel at the 2nd District Court of Appeal, said Manatee County Attorney Mickey Palmer.

In the meantime, the two Australian shepherds remain at a county animal shelter, both in good health, said Ronald Koper Jr., director of the Manatee County Department of Public Safety, in a report to the commission.

In other action, the commission OK'd reimbursement of $11,485.50 to Manatee County Commissioner Larry Bustle for legal expenses he incurred last year dealing with an ethics complaint.

The Florida Election Commission cleared Bustle of wrongdoing in connection with a press conference Aug. 28, 2012, at McKechnie Field to announce plans to build new Little League baseball fields at Blackstone Park.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745 7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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