Port St. Lucie dogs set for euthanization released back to owner by judge

Port St. Lucie dogs set for euthanization released to owner by judge

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Two Port St. Lucie dogs that were at risk for being euthanized are out of Port St. Lucie Animal Control custody and back with their owner.

The dogs, named Duke and Princess, were taken from Stephanie Castro in September after numerous complaints from neighbors over the span of months.  Residents said the dogs would run loose on the street, bark maliciously and scare neighbors.

On Sept. 16, animal control seized the dogs after they were reported to be running loose again and were later designated as dangerous.

The dogs were in danger of being euthanized, but Castro argued they shouldn't be put down just for barking.

Reports showed the dogs never bit or physically hurt anybody. In the state of Florida, scaring someone can also be considered an attack.

Tuesday, Castro said she got a call from her attorney with good news. A circuit judge signed an order that the dogs be returned to Castro.

This wasn't because the judge dismissed the complaints against them, or even supported that she was a good caretaker. Castro's attorney actually found a legal technicality that gave Castro the right to bring the dogs home.

The city of Port St. Lucie was required to give Castro a hearing to contest the dogs being euthanized within 21 days of Castro making a request for a hearing.

The judge's order says Castro requested the hearing on Sep. 18. A hearing was not set until Oct. 26, "beyond the 21 days during which the city may lawfully hold the dogs," according to the order.

Castro picked up the dogs immediately Tuesday.

"I screamed. I screamed my daughter's name and told her to get ready, we're leaving right now. I've cried probably 10 times. I don't think I have any tears left," said Castro.

Castro has since moved to a new home in Palm City. Her former neighbors who complained about the dogs said they were glad the dogs weren't euthanized.

But, one neighbor who did not want to be identified, said he did not want to see them continuing to live with Castro.

"I'd like to see them adopted by another family," said the neighbor.

He said his father filed a complaint when the dogs chased him into a neighbor's yard.

"My father was one of those people. He got pinned to the next door neighbor's garage," said the resident.

Castro is making changes, she says.

"We have a dog door, but we took that out. We do not use that any longer, the dogs are supervised on a leash," Castro said.

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