Posted Apr 7, 2020
A Palm Coast woman who mounted a seven-month campaign to save her dog from being euthanized after it was declared dangerous in two different counties was recently arrested.
PALM COAST — A Palm Coast woman who mounted a seven-month campaign to save her dog from being euthanized after it was declared dangerous in two different counties was recently arrested.
Dottye Benton lost her battle to save the life of Cooper, her 6-year-old Doberman-hound mix. He was killed by lethal injection in January 2019.
Flagler County deputies on Sunday served Benton an arrest warrant, which stemmed from an August 2018 attack Cooper unleashed on a shelter worker at the Flagler Humane Society.
Benton, 73, was arrested Sunday night at her home and charged with dangerous dog-attack or bite, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. She was released on her own recognizance about an hour after being booked into the jail.
Benton fought for nearly a year to convince officials both local and statewide to allow Cooper to be sent to a Hillsborough County rescue ranch for dangerous dogs. Hundreds of animal lovers flocked to her cause. Benton and her supporters staged protests and flooded Palm Coast city leaders with letters and emails trying to pressure them to release Cooper. Benton launched online petitions and fought the ruling all the way up to the District Court of Appeals. She even lobbied Gov. Ron DeSantis to spare Cooper.
But her efforts were for naught. In the end, Cooper’s fate was sealed by state law that stipulates a dog must be euthanized if it attacks again after being declared dangerous.
Palm Coast Animal Control deemed the dog dangerous in February 2018 after it bit a carpet cleaner who visited Benton’s Palm Coast home. The contractor was permanently disfigured and required facial reconstructive surgery.
That was Cooper’s second attack in less than a month. Port Orange animal control also declared him dangerous following a January 2018 incident in which the dog bit a neighbor of Benton’s daughter.
Cooper remained in quarantine at the Flagler Humane Society for nearly a year as Benton sought to appeal his euthanization order.
It was during that quarantine that the dog bit a third person, a Humane Society shelter worker. That attack happened Aug. 16, 2018, as Benton was visiting Cooper. According to an arrest report, Benton was walking out of Cooper’s kennel when the dog broke loose from his cage and bit Shane Blalock on the hip.