A Florida man “quickly left” after he shot a pit bull multiple times last month, sending the wounded dog swimming across a canal to safety, according to authorities.
But roughly a month after the Aug. 15 shooting, deputies have a suspect behind bars.
Lee County deputies arrested Derrick Lee Vasquez, 34, at his home in Lehigh Acres, Florida, on Tuesday after an investigation identified Vasquez as the shooter, the sheriff’s office said. He faces charges of causing cruelty or pain and suffering to an animal.
“This incident kept me up at night and I couldn’t be happier knowing that this individual is in jail where he belongs,” Lee County Undersheriff Carmine Marceno said in a statement announcing the arrest. “Under no circumstances will any form of animal abuse be tolerated.”
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A witness discovered the injured dog swimming across the canal after hearing gunfire, and said the shooter “was standing on the other side of the canal and indicated that he shot the dog because it allegedly bit his son,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement last month.
Soon the shooter walked off and left the scene, deputies said.
Meanwhile, the dog swam until it reached the edge of the canal, got out and limped into a forested area, deputies said.
By the time deputies arrived in Lehigh Acres on reports of gunfire, the injured dog was still hiding in the woods, the sheriff’s office said.
Deputies soothed the scared dog and encouraged it to come out into the open.
Eventually they succeeded: The pit bull limped into an open area, where deputies could pick up the injured dog with a towel and carry it to a Lee County Domestic Animal Services vehicle.
Neighbors brought out the towel and a muzzle to help care for the wounded animal, the sheriff’s office said.
Deputies saidthe 3-year-old female dog was shot twice and is recovering at Big Hearts for Big Dogs Rescue.
The dog’s name is Seven, according to rescuers.
“Seven gets to go on a few short easy walks every day so she can smell the breeze, sniff the grass and just enjoy the quiet,” the nonprofit wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday. “Our brave girl will be seeing the cardiologist next week for a consultation. Although it’s sad for us to know all of Seven’s medical issues, I can promise you she doesn’t have a care in the world!”
A Big Hearts for Big Dogs Rescue Facebook post from earlier this month said the dog is suffering from “severe” heartworm.
“It is bad enough she had to survive being shot multiple times,” rescuers wrote. “But now to see her battle a deadly condition that is so easily preventable is simply heartbreaking. “