LEESBURG, Fla. – A man was arrested after his dog reportedly drowned during a game of fetch Sunday evening — while wearing a weighted vest.
After a failed search in Venetian Gardens in Leesburg by the dog’s owner Dennys Jose Luque and bystanders, one of the witnesses and the Leesburg Fire Department eventually were able to find the German shepherd in the water about 9:45 p.m. Sunday.
The animal was discovered in about seven to 10 feet of water and about 20 feet from the boat ramp, according to an arrest affidavit.
Luque, a 44-year-old homeless man, was charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty for putting the 13-pound belt on the dog and felony animal cruelty for sending the dog into the water with the belt on.
According to the affidavit, witnesses told police, who were called to the scene just before 8 p.m., that Luque had the dog wearing what appeared to be a weighted belt during an exercise by having it jump off the boat ramp in a game of fetch. A woman said at one point she could hear what sounded like the dog crying and it seemed like it was drowning.
Another witnesses added the dog didn’t come up.
Luque and three witnesses jumped in after the dog, but came back up empty.
The affidavit added the woman asked Luque why the animal was wearing the belt, and he replied, “These things happen,” before he jumped in his pickup truck and drove off.
Shortly after a witness and responding firefighters retrieve the dog’s body from the water, an officer spotted Luque’s vehicle nearby and stopped it. Luque reportedly admitted he had regularly conducted weight training exercises with the dog.