Tethered dog dangled from balcony causes outrage, leads to charge

Source: Greenville Police Department on Facebook
Source: Greenville Police Department on Facebook
Source: Greenville Police Department on Facebook (highlight added by WMBF News)
Source: Greenville Police Department on Facebook (highlight added by WMBF News)

GREENVILLE, S.C (WYFF) A 23-year-old man has been charged after a photo of a tethered dog dangling from a balcony was posted online.

Greenville Police Department said Tyler Smith is charged with a violation of a city animal care ordinance.  It is a misdemeanor.

Police say that means Smith could face more than $1,000 in fines and/or 30 days in jail.

The photo was posted and circulated via Facebook.  It shows the tethered dog dangling off the balcony of a brick condo unit at McBee Station.

Officer Johnathan Bragg said, "This past Saturday when it was raining, we got a few messages on Facebook stating that this dog was being let over the balcony with a leash."

WYFF News 4 talked with the woman who shared the picture on social media.

Heather Vincelette and the woman who snapped the picture have mutual friends on Facebook.

"I saw it from their page and I took it and posted it on my page. But not only did I do that, I posted it on Spartanburg Animal Services page, Greenville Animal Services page, the Humane Society page, with the question 'is this legal?'" Vincelette said.

Neighbors say they usually see the dog, named Max, being walked by his owners.

Max belongs to Smith's parents, according to neighbors.

The picture generated many comments and much criticism on social media.

"Within 24 hours it had about 600 shares, had 300 comments. It kind of took off on its own," Vincelette said.

Vincelette said she shared the picture because it affected her.

"I find it totally unacceptable to dangle your dog over the side of the balcony," she said.

Through this case, Vincelette has realized the power of social media.

"People are watching everywhere.. Even if one person takes a picture, it's going to spread and people are watching everywhere," she said.

Greenville police said numerous people contacted them through Facebook about the picture.

They say the department's Facebook page gets a lot of input from the public about things residents see and are concerned about.

"A man was arrested for beating a dog inside his apartment on Villa Road, and we actually made the arrest through social media because the video circulated through social media and we got tagged with it on our Facebook," Bragg said.

But he did caution people about posting pictures.

"Unless you actually know what's happening and you're accusing someone of it, just send it to us privately. Let us investigate before we let the whole world see it," he said.

The image of Max being dangled was tweeted to WYFF News 4, and also posted on the Greenville County Animal Care Services and other pages.  There were many angry comments all over Facebook, including one that said, "If they're too lazy to walk down stairs to let their dog use the bathroom, they don't need an animal! That's ridiculous!"

Another post early Monday afternoon said, "I'm sorry but if I had seen that I wouldn't be standing there taking a picture, I would be going and getting that dog." To which another person responded, "Sorry, but the girl who took the picture DID approach the guy. The guy said he could do whatever he wanted with his dog. So she stepped back, took a picture and called the authorities. Don't be too quick to judge someone who made the right decision and took action. In this day and age, unfortunately many people would have just kept walking."

Before Smith was cited, a Facebook user also added, "A report has been filed. Fingers crossed for action. Keep sharing! Maybe the more emails, posts, angry phone calls that come out of this, the quicker the punishment. Over 600 shares in one day is amazing. Over 300 comments (though a small handful, not that bright) is more than I expected when I posted this question. We have a lot of animal lovers in the Upstate!"

From Greenville NBC Affiliate WYFF4: