A Ramrod Key man faces a felony animal cruelty charge after being accused by investigators of beating his dog and forcing the animal’s mouth shut with electrical tape.
Isaac Ellison Ashe, 33, was arrested Tuesday by Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies and an investigator with the State Attorney’s Office, Matthew Krol.
Tara Vickrey, a county-contracted animal control officer and executive director of the Marathon-based Safe Harbor Animal Rescue of the Keys, or SHARK, told Krol she deemed the dog’s life was in danger.
Matt Royer, director of operations of the Florida Keys SPCA in Keys West, from where Ashe adopted the dog, also determined the dog, a pit bull terrier named Pepper, was in peril if he remained with Ashe.
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Ashe, who did not return a phone call for comment, posted a bond of $5,000 and was released from county jail on Tuesday at 8:36 p.m., three hours after he was booked. If convicted, he could serve five years in state prison.
He has a long arrest history in the Keys going back to 2001 on charges ranging from grand theft to felony battery.
Vickrey said the case demonstrates the cooperation that exists between Keys animal control offices and law enforcement agencies.
“This is the best result we could have possibly hoped for,” she said. “It was a big combined effort. It was wonderful.”
According to his arrest affidavit, one of Ashe’s two roommates told Vickrey that Ashe adopted Pepper in early May. The roommate went on a work trip on May 15, and when she returned on May 26, she noticed Pepper was limping.
The roommate said she began taking Pepper for walks, which she told Vickrey upset Ashe. On June 6, the roommate said she came home to find Pepper in his kennel with the door deadbolted. The dog’s collar got stuck on the bars, to which Ashe allegedly told his roommate that he’d be angry with her if she freed the dog and damaged the kennel. He allegedly added that it would be the dog’s fault if it got stuck and died.
After that conversation, Ashe kept the dog, kenneled, in his room, according to the affidavit.
On July 4, the roommate entered the house and saw Ashe wrapping electrical tape around Pepper’s snout, Krol wrote in the affidavit.
While the roommate was at work, she received a text from her other roommate stating Ashe pinned the dog in a corner and was force-closing its mouth to try stopping the animal from crying. This made the dog cry more, Krol wrote.
Vickrey also received several reports alleging Ashe would repeatedly pick up Pepper and slam him to the ground.
On July 24, County Judge Peary Fowler ordered animal control officers to take temporary custody of the dog. Ashe ended up signing Pepper back over to the Florida Keys SPCA, Vickrey said.
“The best news is that he surrendered the dog back to the Florida Keys SPCA,” Vickrey said. “And, hopefully we’ll find a good home for him this time.”