Florence family fights in court to get dog back from county after neighbor complained

Pee Dee

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – A family was reunited with their dog on Thursday after he was taken away by animal control due to a neighbor’s complaint.

But they still must go to court to fight to keep him.

The family said Leo, their German shepherd, was removed after a neighbor complained the dog was dangerous and they had to appear in court to get him back.

“We went over and reclaimed him and they were like, sorry you can’t have him back,” said Lilliana Arellano, who owns the dog with her sister and mom. Arellano said officials with the Department of Environmental Services, which provides animal control in Florence County, told her she would have to go to court to get Leo since a neighbor reported him to be dangerous.

“We want Leo back,” said Arellano. “He needs to come home. He’s so stressed. His hair is falling out, he has rashes and bruises on his elbows.”

The next stop for the family is a jury trial in Florence to prove if Leo actually is dangerous.

The family’s attorney, Marsh Julian with Smith Ammons Law Firm, said the family has requested a jury trial. “We were able to secure a resolution and secure Leo’s release without having to go to any trial today. We have requested a jury trial. We believe this a question of fact for a jury to hear.”

More than 80,000 people have signed a petition to help get Leo back, according to the family’s web page. “In our county, a dog does not have to show aggression or attack anyone to be deemed dangerous. Someone just has to think he is,” the family posted on the page.

Officials with the Department of Environmental Services said they are not able to talk about specific animals. News13 is working to learn what would qualify a dog as dangerous, according to South Carolina Laws.

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