Florida teen arrested in dog abuse investigation

A Florida teenager, captured on surveillance video whipping a dog around on its leash, was arrested Thursday afternoon, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office says.

Joseph Tyler Pendergrass, 18, is charged with one count of felony animal cruelty.  FOX 35 was the only news crew there, when Pendergrass bonded out of the Brevard County Jail late Thursday evening. 

Pendergrass has been fired from Barkingham Palace in Rockledge.  Sheriff Wayne Ivey said Barkingham Palace owner Candy Pearce reported Pendergrass as soon as she saw the surveillance video from inside her kennel. 

“The only thing that went through my mind is: I have to stop him from being able to work at a kennel again,” Pearce said.

She said another one of her employees noticed the Shi Tzu was injured and immediately took the dog to an emergency veterinarian, who discovered the dog had a broken leg.

“If you can harm an innocent animal like that, what can you do to somebody else.  What else are you capable of doing?” Ivey said.

According to Ivey, animal cruelty officers found no other cases of abuse at Barkingham Palace.

The sheriff praised Pearce and her staff for coming forward, even though they knew it could attract negative attention to the business which has been around for seventeen years. 

“To me they’re heroes.  They did exactly what we’d want them to do,” Ivey said.

Pearce said she doesn’t feel like a hero.

“When something sickening like this happens it’s not a hero status, it’s: he’s got to be stopped, it can’t happen again,” she said.