‘Justice for Leo’: Florence woman seeks justice for her dog

'Justice for Leo': Florence resident seeks justice for her dog

FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) - A Florence woman is trying to get justice for her German Shepherd who has been in custody at the Florence County Animal Shelter for the last three weeks.

On May 1, Liliana Arellano came home and found that her dog Leo was missing.

She found a note on her door from Florence County Environmental Services saying Leo had been taken to the shelter.

Notice for FCES
Notice for FCES (Source: Kelly Ann Curran)

“We immediately contacted them on Facebook and they were like you can’t pick him up today,” said Arellano. “So Monday morning, first thing when we arrive, they were like this is a bigger case than we thought and we’d have to go to court to get him back, apparently he was deemed ‘dangerous’ by a neighbor and of course we didn’t understand because this had never happened to us.”

Florence County Environmental Services declined to comment on the case.

The Florence County Sheriff’s Office does not have jurisdiction in the case, but they did make recommendations on how it should be handled. The sheriff’s office said Environmental Services decided to go in a different direction.

Arellano requested a report, which she said showed no evidence Leo hurt a person or animal.

She said she continued to reach out to Florence County Environmental Services, but couldn’t get an answer to why Leo was considered “dangerous.”

“Every time we ask if he bit anyone, they are like, ‘No he just scared the neighbors,’” said Arellano. “I was like, ‘Well he’s scared, and what does that mean? What if a person is just scared of dogs?’"

Arellano gathered community support by creating a “Justice for Leo” Facebook page.

Along with the page, she started a petition seeking Leo’s freedom which has over 3,000 signatures.

“People were asking me to inform them of what was going on, so after that, we decided to start a petition which has had plenty of signatures and then we started the group and we’ve had support from so many people,” said Arellano.

Arellano has hired a lawyer and they will go to court on May 28 to fight for Leo’s freedom.

“He’s always been around us, my nieces, other dogs, babies, I mean he is not dangerous at all, so that’s why it is very confusing as to why they are claiming he is,” said Arellano.

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