A young pit bull terrier mix named Wally is doing well at the animal rescue pound in Marathon after witnesses told deputies he was repeatedly picked up by the ears and slammed into the ground and struck by his owner.
"We are taking him to the vet today to be X-rayed, and hopefully we can get more evidence," said animal control officer Jared Daeffler of Safe Harbor Animal Rescue Of The Keys. "I'll be going to the State Attorney's Office with papers, and hopefully they will prosecute."
Wally was otherwise playful and doing well after the attack, Daeffler said.
Monroe County Sheriff's Office deputies charged Wally's owner, Benjamin John Check, 21, of Marathon, with third-degree felony animal cruelty and second-degree misdemeanor theft
Witnesses called police around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday after watching the attack at the Marathon Grill and Ale House, 5800 Overseas Highway.
Check appeared "very intoxicated" and looked to be pulling his hair out while pacing the restaurant parking lot when Deputy Joel Slough arrived on the scene, reports state.
Four witnesses told deputies they saw Check pick up the dog by his ears and slam him into the ground multiple times, according to reports. They also reportedly saw Check "thrust his knee into the side of Wally, during which Wally yelped and cried out in pain."
Deputies took Wally away and gave him a bowl of water, and they also searched Check, finding a wallet on him containing $50 and another person's driver's license. That person arrived on the scene and said the wallet belonged to him.
Slough noticed a possible injury to Wally's ear, but could find no other visible injuries, he wrote. Wally appears to be six months to about one-year old, Daeffler said.
"He looks healthy but hasn't been trained," Daeffler said. "We are going to petition to have the courts give us custody so we can adopt him out. We have a few other terriers already, and he's not a purebread, so people may be reluctant to adopt."
Daeffler expected the process of getting ownership to take a few months, should the courts agree that Wally would be happier at the shelter and eventually with another owner.
Check remained at Monroe County Detention Center in Marathon Friday in lieu of $25,500 bail. He has no other criminal history in the Keys, and jail records listed him as homeless.