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Man Charged for Antagonizing Police Dog

Posted on Aug 22, 2008 - 3:40 PM
Man charged for antagonizing police dog
August 16, 2008
Associated Press

RUTLAND, Vt. --A man who allegedly antagonized a police dog has been charged with cruelty after authorities said he growled and barked at the animal, prompting a reaction that left the dog with minor injuries.

James Tibbitts, 41, was charged with cruelty to a police service animal after an incident Friday in which he was arrested for allegedly lying to police and then -- on the five-minute ride to the police station -- caused the dog to scratch at and bang his snout and teeth on the cage separating them in the cruiser, police said.

The 3-year-old German shepherd, King Luther, was treated for strained ligaments in his hind quarter, a cut on his nose, two broken nails on one paw and gum wounds suffered when hit bit the metal cage. He was back on duty Friday.

The dog's handler, Officer Frank Post, arrived as backup to a call over a suicidal woman in Tibbitts' residence.

He told them Valerie Sullivan wasn't home, but police found her inside. Sullivan, who was had outstanding warrants for simple assault and driving with a suspended license, also was suspected of stealing a car.

She was arrested and charged with assault, driving with a suspended license and operating a vehicle without the owner's consent.

Tibbitts, who was initially taken into custody for impeding a police officer, was charged with cruelty after "yelling, growling, snarling and barking" at the dog during the ride to the police station, according to a police affidavit.

The charge, a misdemeanor, carries a potential penalty of one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

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