Detectives want the public's help in finding the person, or persons, who tortured a 10-year-old pit bull mix that was found bound by duct tape and left to die on the side of the road.
Tavernier resident Daniel Rossler found the dog around 6:30 a.m. July 22 on Central Avenue near Mile Marker 101, oceanside. The dog was squirming inside a taped-shut black garbage bag.
The 45-pound red-nosed pit bull found inside the bag had tape wrapped around its head and muzzle. The dog had already torn part of the bag with its claws trying to climb out. Using a pocketknife, Rossler began cutting off what would turn into almost 10 feet of duct tape.
The dog's skull was partly crushed, exposing parts of the bone. It was taken to animal control, where it was later euthanized.
"We're committed to solving this case and trying to work closely with the public," said Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay. "We're sending out fliers, and working with the radio stations as well as trying to get more reward money together. Clearly, this dog was tortured. It is a very heinous and sad case, and we want to put whomever is responsible in jail."
Ramsay said the dog appeared to be very affectionate and did not appear to be a fighting dog.
Investigators are looking into the possibility the dog was dumped by someone from Miami-Dade County as it has a local ordinance banning pit bulls.
"That was one of the first thoughts I had, that this was maybe a fighting dog," said Detective Mark Coleman. "But animal control said there were no bite wounds typical with a fighting dog, and that this seemed more like someone's pet."
Coleman is asking anyone who saw a person or persons on the side of the road, seemingly dumping garbage, at Mile Marker 100 on July 22 to call the sheriff's office.
Coleman said police are gathering information on a possible suspect, but he declined to comment more on the case.
"I cut the tape off the dog, released her and she walked around with me," Rossler said. "She wouldn't leave my side. She understood commands. She was not aggressive. If she survived, I would have adopted that dog for sure. She was the cuddler type. Really friendly."
There was no necropsy conducted by the shelter, so no bullet was found. But the dog suffered from internal bleeding and its teeth had been impacted.
So injured was the dog's head that it had trouble drinking more than a liter of water that Rossler provided while waiting for authorities.
Initially, the dog reportedly suffered a gunshot wound to the head, but investigators can't be sure given the dog was destroyed, said sheriff's office spokeswoman Becky Herrin.
"But there was no doubt ... extensive trauma to its head," Herrin said.
Detectives ask that anyone with information about the case contact the sheriff's office at 305-853-3211. Callers may also contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Tipsters can remain anonymous and, if a tip leads to an arrest in the case, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward.
The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-8477.
Tips may also be submitted online at www.tipsubmit.com.