A 38-year-old Dunnellon man snatched a man's Pitbull puppy before punching him in the face, according to a Citrus County Sheriff's Office arrest affidavit.
James Sandora was arrested and charged Saturday, Nov. 20, with robbery by sudden snatching while offender carried no weapon, petit theft, cruelty to animals and battery. Bond was set at $5,000.
The victim alleged he left home with his friends to pick up furniture from down the street. While leaving, he saw Sandora approaching the driveway in a truck.
According to the report, the victim and his friend knew Sandora from previous interactions and said they try to stay away from him.
As they drove outside the neighborhood, Sandora reportedly followed them before turning around. The victim said when he returned home, he saw Sandora in the middle of the road, speaking to other neighbors.
Sandora reportedly told the victim he had one of his dogs and someone at the victim's residence said he could keep it. In the back seat of Sandora's truck, the victim saw his 6-month-old Pitbull puppy.
According to the report, the victim told Sandora the puppy was not for sale because it has a neurological disorder and needs special care. He reached inside the truck and picked up his puppy.
Sandora reportedly grabbed the puppy by the back of the head and began to forcefully pull it out of the victim's arms. It became a tug-of-war and the victim let go as not to harm it.
After the victim let go, Sandora reportedly continued to hold the puppy by its head while insisting it was his. He then threw the puppy inside the truck window while the victim said, "No. That dog is not for sale."
According to the victim, Sandora balled his fists, walked toward him in an aggressive manner and began to say, "You want to go?" before turning and punching him in the face.
The victim said his friend had to pull Sandora away and hold him down to prevent further physical altercation. Sandora reportedly drove away with the puppy in the truck.
When the victim returned home, he was informed Sandora had entered his gated property and asked to buy the dog. Sandora took the puppy to his car and said he wanted to drive up the road to make sure it would be ok, but never returned.
According to the report, witness statements corroborated with the victim's. Deputies also observed swelling to the victim's lower lip, consistent with his statements.
Deputies found Sandora at a Circle K gas station. They reportedly saw the puppy laying on the floorboards in the back seat. It was shivering and not moving much. The puppy's feces was also all over the seat, floorboards and door panels.
Due to the alleged inconsistencies in Sandora's statement, along with the puppy in his vehicle, deputies determined probable cause. In addition, Animal Control was aware the puppy was not for sale and that it has a birth defect.
Sandora was taken into custody and transported to the Citrus County Detention Center.