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Wednesday, Jan 16, 2019
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Family dog protects expectant mother

AVON PARK - An Avon Park family believes their boxer dog named Miley is a hero after she protected 6-months pregnant Kimberly Ferguson on Sunday night, and tangled with a Highlands County Sheriff's K-9 named Cain that escaped its kennel on a nearby street. Cain is the K-9 partner of Sheriff's Deputy Scott Williams. Ferguson, 29, who lives near Lake Olivia, was in her garage Sunday doing laundry with the garage door open. Miley, who is a bit skittish about fireworks, was by her side. "Miley nudged me and I turned around," she said Tuesday. "The other dog was there. She got in front of me; then the dogs got into it.
"I threw a laundry basket and a folding chair at (Cain). They stopped and he started walking toward me and Miley grabbed at him again." Ferguson ran for the door that leads from her garage into the house. She could hear the dogs fighting; then heard a yelp and quiet. "Miley was sitting at my inside garage door," she said. Miley, age 3, was taken to a veterinarian for a puncture wound and scratches. She weighs 64 pounds, Ferguson said, and was possibly outweighed a little by Cain. Her husband, Chet Ferguson, 33, gave Miley some special treats that night, she said. He said Tuesday that Miley was doing well; is being treated with antibiotics and has a follow-up visit in two weeks. "It's a blessing the dog didn't get to my wife; my pregnant wife," he emphasized. He knew the dog because it lives near his in-laws. He filed a complaint with the sheriff's office. At about 9:35 p.m. Sunday, Deputy Thomas Fort was sent to recover Cain. The dog was found a block away, Fort reported. Williams, who was out at the time, drove home when he heard, the report stated. Williams had added a screen cover on the top that was "zip tied" to the walls of the kennel to seal the top – to further secure it, Fort wrote. "The screen cover had been ripped and torn away from the side near the door and scratches were visible on the metal framing of the kennel," Fort stated. "…Cain had apparently climbed the kennel wall to escape." The kennel door was still latched. Williams told Fort loud noises like thunder or fireworks tend to startle Cain and he tries to escape from the noises. The 6-foot-tall kennel was covered with a heavy-gauge sun shade, Sheriff's Chief Deputy Mark Schrader explained. They didn't think a dog could get through that, he said. The sheriff's K-9's are insured and it will pay for the family's vet bills, he said. Sheriff's Capt. Randy LaBelle inspected all of the K-9 kennels on Tuesday. "What we're going to do is get someone out there to weld metal bars and put chain link on top and put the sunshade over that," Schrader said, adding that will be done to all kennels. Cain was involved in another dog attack at about 10:15 a.m., May 12, in front of Williams' home, Schrader confirmed. That dog sustained two small puncture wounds on the right side of its jaw, he said. A man was walking his two dogs as Williams cleaned his garage. Cain was laying there with Williams, who did not see Cain leave. Cain attacked a chow/husky mix and bit it. "I ran out to the roadway, commanded Cain out and secured him in his kennel," Williams reported. Williams was apologetic, checked out the chow, and asked the owner into his garage to rest. He explained he needed to report it. "I asked him his full name and address at which point he was very hesitant, stating that dogs will be dogs and that he felt that his dog was fine," Williams wrote. "…I informed him that I would personally compensate him should he decide or need to take his dog to the veterinarian," Williams wrote. He called the owner later that day; the dog was acting as if nothing had happened. Williams was coached and counseled the first time, Schrader said. Because this is two times in a short time and allegations have been made there have been other instances when Cain has gotten loose, Lt. Greg Pearlman was assigned to conduct a bureau investigation, Schrader said, to gather all the facts and make a report. Cain, a 5-year-old Belgian malinois, was not injured in either incident.

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