LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - A Lake County man is accused of fatally shooting a hunting dog and stealing her collars, deputies said.
The dog’s owner, Jason McGhee, told deputies with the Lake County Sheriff's Office that he and his hunting party were in the Ocala National Forest near Deer Haven Community in Paisley on Saturday and never crossed onto private property, deputies said.
McGhee said they were tracking the dogs and got within 66 yards of Remi, but could not get to her, investigators said. He said he heard the dog barking, then heard several shots fired and the dog stopped barking, deputies said.
McGhee told deputies he got permission from a property owner to find the dog using her GPS collars and later found Remi dead on the national forest property, but her three dog collars had been removed.
"Unbelievable. That was my best dog. I spent a lot of time with her; we all did," McGhee told Channel 9's Myrt Price.
The dog collars with GPS were valued at $975, and the dog, which was a walker hound dog, was valued at $1,500, McGhee said.
McGhee tracked the missing dog collars to a home at 47202 South West Ave. belonging to Todd Allen Sweitzer, 49, of Paisley, and notified deputies, investigators said.
Deputies said they went to the home but before they could question Sweitzer, he immediately told them he didn't kill any dogs and that he had heard about the dead dog from a neighbor.
Deputies told Sweitzer that the dog’s GPS collars were pinpointed at his home, but he denied having them, so a search warrant was obtained, investigators said. He admitted the collars were in a box in the house and the gun was in an air-conditioning duct in the bathroom, deputies said.
"I would understand that if she did trespass or bite someone, but we have the GPS coordinates that show she never even touched his land," McGhee said.
Sweitzer faces charges of animal cruelty and grand theft, investigators said.
Deputies say the dog’s owner was training it and four other dogs, near the suspects home. pic.twitter.com/v8EpSjMPIb— Myrt Price (@MPriceWFTV) December 18, 2017
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