MANATEE -- The Manatee County Sheriff's Office is investigating an incident between Padi, the dog that became infamous for biting off part of a child's ear in June, and a service dog.
Dave Bristow, spokesman for the sheriff's office, said the caretaker of a service dog reported to law enforcement that Padi bit a service dog in her care. The incident happened at the clinic of Paul Gartenberg, the veterinarian who owns Padi.
Gartenberg could face a misdemeanor charge of reckless disregard for a service dog resulting in its injury. The sheriff's office has spoken with Gartenberg and did not remove Padi from his care.
The incident occurred at 9:40 a.m. Monday, according to Bristow. The owner of the other dog reported it at 11:53 a.m. from another location in Parrish. No other details from law enforcement were immediately available.
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Gartenberg said the incident was nothing and he thinks Padi has "a target on him," since he's been the focus of so much media attention.
"To categorize this as a scratch would be overstating it," Gartenberg said.
He said the other dog, a puppy who came to the clinic for 16-week shots, was growling at so many patients when he first came in that employ
ees of the clinic placed him in an exam room before his appointment time. When he finished his appointment, Gartenberg said the puppy got in Padi's face and Padi "grabbed him by the nose."
After the incident, Gartenberg said the owner was angry and caused a scene at the clinic.
"She was saying he couldn't be a service dog anymore because he'd be afraid of dogs," Gartenberg said. "I think that's baloney."
Padi faced euthanasia last year after he bit off part of a child's ear in June while he was allegedly cornered by the child in Gartenberg's office. The child required sutures and the bite was therefore considered a severe injury.
A judge decided to free Padi, despite Florida law that stated he should be euthanized regardless of the circumstances. A civil case against Gartenberg by the child's parents is pending.
Padi then inspired a bill that passed both chambers of the Legislature to change that law, so hearing officers could consider the circumstances of the bite before deciding whether the dog should be euthanized. The governor, who received the bill on March 1, has not yet signed it into law.
Vanessa Baugh, chair of the Manatee County Commission, wrote Scott on behalf of the commission last week asking for his support of the bill.