CREATED Feb. 22, 2013
FORT MYERS - The Fort Myers police officer accused of hitting his K-9 partner will no longer be allowed to adopt animals from the county. An animal services investigation uncovered a history of serious problems with dogs owned by officer George Sanford. Four in your Corner investigator Mike Mason explains.
According to this report, Sanford's wife was viciously attacked by one dog, 2 dogs were so aggressive they had to be euthanized and now animal rights advocates are wondering why Sanford is still allowed to keep his K-9 partner.
Madeleine Doran: "I'm sure I could organize a large group to picket but I don't think it would make any difference to Chief Baker."
Animal rights activist Madeleine Doran is furious, asking why Fort Myers police Chief Doug Baker is allowing officer George Sanford to keep his K-9 partner, “Euro”, after an investigation found he hit the dog.
Officer George Sanford: "I smacked him yes, I smacked him with an open hand that is true and I told them that from the very beginning that's exactly what happened."
Mike Mason: "But should you have done that?"
Officer George Sanford: "It was a knee jerk reaction."
An investigation also found an officer saw Sanford hit Euro before on 2 separate occasions. Today, Lee County Animal Services paid a visit to Sanford's home to check on his pets. They found he owns 6 dogs and 3 cats, including Euro. They also determined: "Due to multiple incidences of aggressive dogs in the home, bites and the husband George stating the dog is "hiding" from him...he and any residents at this address are not permitted to adopt from Lee County Domestic Animal Services."
Madeleine Doran: "I think that's great and it's unfortunate that is all animal services has the authority to do."
Records show in May 2010, Sanford's wife, Pam, tried to break up a dog fight at their home and was bitten by her own dog. She was then taken to a hospital. When animal service officers asked George where the dog was he responded: "It was in the house somewhere hiding from him."
Reports show Sanford went on to say: "He plans to have the K-9 euthanized today."
In June 2012, another incident. This time Sanford's wife called animal services about her lab named "Cassie". She adopted Cassie from animal services in 2008 and told officers she wanted to give it back because: "Over the past few years Cassie has become very aggressive and unpredictable."
Instead, reports show the dog was euthanized earlier this month.
Madeleine Doran: "I think Chief Baker needs to reassign Euro immediately and I think (City Manager) Billy Mitchell and the city council should get behind it."
Doran wants to know why the Chief is allowing Sanford to keep Euro in these conditions. Fox 4 recently uncovered allegations of abuse throughout the department's K-9 unit and the Chief has now ordered a full investigation. Doran wonders why it takes media pressure to get action.
Madeleine Doran: "Oh, I think the stories have made all the difference, there wouldn't be an internal investigation now if Fox 4 hadn't gotten involved and specifically you."
Police Chief Doug Baker refuses to talk about officer Sanford's case or the investigation into the K-9 unit. He does say he will allow the assistance of an outside agency.